whit - how widely is it used?


New Member
Francia, France
Hi, can anybody tell me if the word "whit" (supposed to mean "small amount") is used often? Is it used in some set phrases?

  • natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    Yes, as others have hinted at, it's usually used in the negative ('I don't give a whit what she thinks about this!') but occasionally might be used in the positive.


    Senior Member
    English - England
    "I'm at my whit's end" to mean I am fed up, but that is more of a set phrase rather than something that I would use in writing.


    Senior Member
    American English (Mostly MidAtlantic)
    I think that's "wit's end" .. as in no amount of thinking seems to solve the problem. It's a Biblical phrase (Psalms 107)


    Senior Member
    Australia English
    I certainly haven't heard it used here in Australia.

    I have!

    A contributor to a blog in The Australian, on 25 March 2010, wrote:
    Barnaby, might stir up the uneducated in the electorate but it doesn't make a whit of sense in terms of policy.



    Senior Member
    'I don't give a whit what she thinks about this!
    Could I add 'flying'? I don't give a flying whit what she thinks!

    And is 'whit' always or only sometimes correct with the reverse negation: I give not a (flying) whit what she thinks!

    Thank you.


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    I wouldn't.

    :warning: 'Flying' in 'give a flying fuck' is in part used for the alliteration --- and for the disparaging and ridiculous image of what the act would entail. :warning:

    'Flying' doesn't really work in relation to 'whit'


    Senior Member
    Thank you, Cagey!

    And about the reverse negation, is it in use with the verb 'give', if I paraphrased Natkretetp's original: I give not a whit what she thinks about it!


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    You could. With the inversion, it sounds rather archaic, but if that is the effect you are looking for, I think it's acceptable.
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