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Etymology 1Edit

From Middle English wīten (to accuse, reproach, punish, suspect), Old English wītan (to look, behold, see, guard, keep, impute or ascribe to, accuse, reproach, blame), from Proto-Germanic *wītaną. Connected to Old English wīte, see below.

Alternative formsEdit


wite (third-person singular simple present wites, present participle witing, simple past and past participle wited)

  1. (chiefly Scotland) To blame; regard as guilty, fault, accuse
    • Late 14th century, Geoffrey Chaucer, ‘The Wife of Bath's Tale’, Canterbury Tales:
      As help me God, I shal þee nevere smyte! / Þat I have doon, it is þyself to wyte.
      ‘The Miller's Prologue’, Canterbury Tales:
      And therfore if that I mysspeke or seye, Wyte it the ale of Southwerk, I you preye.
  2. To reproach, censure, mulct
  3. To observe, keep, guard, preserve, protect

Etymology 2Edit

From Middle English wītan (guilt, blameworthiness, blame, wrongdoing, misdeed, offense, punishment, retribution, fine, bote, customary rent), from Old English wīte, see below.


wite (plural wites)

  1. (obsolete outside Scotland) Blame, responsibility, guilt.
    • 1485 July 31, Thomas Malory, “Capitulum XXVII”, in [Le Morte Darthur], book I, [London]: Enprynted and fynysshed in thabbey Westmestre [by William Caxton], OCLC 71490786; republished as H[einrich] Oskar Sommer, editor, Le Morte Darthur by Syr Thomas Malory; the Original Edition of William Caxton Now Reprinted and Edited with an Introduction and Glossary by H. Oskar Sommer, Ph.D.; with an Essay on Malory’s Prose Style by Andrew Lang, London: Published by David Nutt, in the Strand, 1889, OCLC 890162034, page 027:
      And so by fortune the ship drave unto a castle, and was all to-riven, and destroyed the most part []. So many lords and barons of this realm were displeased, for their children were so lost, and many put the wite on Merlin more than on Arthur; so what for dread and for love, they held their peace.
      1485, Sir Thomas Malory, chapter xxiij, in Le Morte Darthur, book I:
      And so by fortune the shyp drofe vnto a castel and was al to ryuen and destroyed the most part []/ So many lordes and barons of this reame were displeasyd / for her children were so lost / and many put the wyte on Merlyn more than on Arthur / so what for drede and for loue they helde their pees
    • 1922, E. R. Eddison, The Worm Ouroboros, The Project Gutenberg, Australia:
      Nor I will not suffer mine indignation so to witwanton with fair justice as persuade me to put the wite on Witchland.
  2. Punishment, penalty, fine, bote, mulct.

Etymology 3Edit

From Old English witan


wite (third-person singular simple present wites, present participle witing, simple past and past participle wited)

  1. (obsolete or poetic) To go, go away, depart, perish, vanish


  • Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

Old EnglishEdit


Cognate with Old Frisian wīte, Old Saxon wīti, Dutch wijte, Old High German wīzi, Old Norse víti.



wīte n (nominative plural wītu)

  1. punishment, torment, torture
    wíte wealdeþ. — He is the disposer of punishment. (He wields punishment.)
  2. plague, disease, evil, injury, pain
    Of ðam wíte gehǽled; — Healed of the disease.
  3. penalty, fine, bote: contribution, in money or food, to sustenance of king or his officers
  4. woe, misery, distress


Derived termsEdit





  1. Alternative form of wyte

West FrisianEdit



  1. Alternative form of witte


Strong class 1
infinitive wite
3rd singular past wiet
past participle witen
infinitive wite
long infinitive witen
gerund witen n
indicative present tense past tense
1st singular wyt wiet
2nd singular wytst wietst
3rd singular wyt wiet
plural wite wieten
imperative wyt
participles witend witen