demanded and acquired by 'mother wit'


Senior Member
It may not be applied perfectly for everything, but it is something to be demanded and acquired by mother wit.

Helo friends,
I wonder if you use mother wit in your daily conversations. Is it understandable in the sentence or not?
Thanks in advance.
  • GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I have never used this phrase in conversation in my life, nor have I ever heard anyone say it directly to me in conversation. I have only infrequently come across the phrase while watching television shows or movies, or while reading books.

    Matching Mole

    Senior Member
    England, English
    I have even less experience with it than GreenWhiteBlue. I guess I must have come across it, as it is still occasionally to be found, but it seems to have escaped my attention all these years (it first came into use somewhere around the 15c.).

    The OED has a quotation from 1991:
    Though he claimed never to have read a book, he was highly intelligent and full of mother wit. [Daily Telegraph, London]

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    I am not at all familiar with the expression 'mother wit', although it rings a very faint bell.
    I suppose it means something like 'common sense' or 'the wits you were born with'.
    I suppose I would immediately work out, almost translate, what was meant in a clear context but I wouldn't think of using it, since it is hardly in even my passive vocabulary



    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Possibly not used in everyday conversation, but I'm sure it is immediately understandable - as defined in post #2.

    The COHA has 36 examples from 1815 to 2004.
    The COCA has 18.
    The BNC has none.

    BNC - British National Corpus
    COCA - Corpus of Contemporary American English
    COHA - Corpus of Historical American English
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