mother wit


Alternative formsEdit


mother wit (uncountable)

  1. Inborn intelligence; innate good sense. [from 15th c.]
    • c. 1591, William Shakespeare, Taming of the Shrew, First Folio 1621, act 2, sc. 1:
      Kate. Where did you study all this goodly speech?
      Petr. It is extempore, from my mother wit.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, IV.10:
      For all that nature by her mother-wit
      Could frame in earth, and forme of substance base,
      Was there […].
    • 1820, Sir Walter Scott, The Monastery, ch. 35:
      His mother-wit taught him that he must not, in such uncertain times, be too hasty in asking information of any one.
    • 1830, James Fenimore Cooper, The Headsman, ch. 28:
      The buffoon, though accustomed to deception and frauds, had sufficient mother-wit to comprehend the critical position in which he was now placed.
    • 1959 Dec. 21, "FICTION: The Year's Best," Time (retrieved 4 April 2011):
      Russian author Panova, writing with unostentatious excellence, has both the compassion and the mother wit to describe the world of a six-year-old—and to recall an existence that most grownups have forgotten.
    • 2007 April 15, Terrence Rafferty, "Film: A Gumshoe Adrift, Lost in the 70's," New York Times (retrieved 4 April 2011):
      [T]he classic private eye could operate effectively and get to the bottom of things with nothing more than nerve, mother wit and local knowledge.



Last modified on 18 August 2013, at 07:03