nitwit

andersxman

Senior Member
Denmark/danish
I was interested in understanding how much of an insult it is to be called a "nitwit". I have heard contrasting opinions on the matter, some say it's really nothing at all, that it's kind of teasing. Others seem to use it as a fairly heavy insult.

thanks
 
  • Aupick

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    I haven't used the word 'nitwit' since I was about nine years old. I can't imagine anyone being seriously offended. It's hard to get less insulting, in fact.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    It depends on tone of voice.
    The dictionary on my computer says: a silly or foolish person (often as a general term of abuse).
    I wouldn't like to be called it.
     

    TrentinaNE

    Senior Member
    USA
    English (American)
    If said in a teasing tone of voice, almost any "insult" can seem innocuous. I think nitwit is one of those words that is more often said teasingly than with true malice -- unless you are Basil Fawlty berating Manuel, who then asks Polly "What is witnit?" :D

    Elizabeth
     

    Fishwife

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    It is a rather innocuous insult, perhaps because it is not a euphemism for something worse. It sounds like "having more lice than brains," though I gather it is more like nil wit or not wit in origin.
     

    rsweet

    Senior Member
    English, North America
    This term isn't vulgar or exceptionally insulting. But it means (literally) that you have brain-power the size of a louse egg. I can't think of many circumstances in which I wouldn't be offended by someone calling me a nitwit :eek: .
     

    Joelline

    Senior Member
    American English
    I just thought of something: is this where "twit" comes from? I wouldn't mind as much if someone called me a "twit," especially if it were said with a smile! I'm not sure that the smile could remove the sting of "nitwit."
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    andersxman said:
    I was interested in understanding how much of an insult it is to be called a "nitwit". I have heard contrasting opinions on the matter, some say it's really nothing at all, that it's kind of teasing. Others seem to use it as a fairly heavy insult.

    thanks
    The two women in my life (wife and daughter) regard "nitwit" as a medium-level insult.
     

    cas29

    Senior Member
    Canada/English
    I don't think I've ever heard someone say this in anything other than a joking manner. I'd use it after someone has done something like put the milk in the cupboard and the coffee pot in the refridgerator. -- when they have done something clearly absent minded. That sort of situation.

    Let's face it, anything can be a term of endearment or an insult depending on the tone of voice. I'd rather be called nitwit in an affectionate way than hear "oh, brilliant, what a genious" in a mean way.
     

    river

    Senior Member
    U.S. English
    If you don't mind birdbrain, blockhead, bonehead, dimwit, nimcompoop, ninny, numskull, or twit then nitwit is fine.
     
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