To whit/to wit?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by Black Opal, Dec 4, 2008.

  1. Black Opal

    Black Opal Senior Member

    United Kingdom
    I'm having a slight wibble over the correct spelling of this little phrase.

    I was sure it was 'to whit' but am now dithering :confused:

    Can anyone help out?
  2. panjandrum

    panjandrum Occasional Moderator

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    It should be "to wit".
    It is one of a few remaining uses of wit, verb, meaning to know, or something close to that.
  3. Black Opal

    Black Opal Senior Member

    United Kingdom
    Thank you panjandrum.
    I wonder why I thought it was 'to whit'? :confused:
  4. se16teddy

    se16teddy Senior Member

    London but from Yorkshire
    English - England
    Maybe you were thinking of tu-whit tu-whoo, which (variously spelt) is a conventional representation of the call of the tawny owl. It is used, for example, in this song from the end of Shakespeare's play Love's Labour's Lost: In the song, the call of the owl, contrasted with the call of the cuckoo, seems to symbolize winter as a time of domestic cheer caused by absence of sexual distraction.

    You can hear the real sounds represented by the words tu-whit tu-whoo here
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2008
  5. torontosaur New Member

    It's "to wit". Comic portrayals of lawyers have led to the common misperception that it's "to whit".

    It's used almost exclusively in the legal profession and it means "namely" or "that is to say" as in "The complainants, to wit Joyce Smith and Robert Jones, wish to withdraw their complaint."

    It can be used facetiously as in "My dinner, to wit one stale donut, is an improvement over my lunch."

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