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), derived from 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.
  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 except Scotland) Blame, responsibility, guilt
    • 1485, Sir Thomas Malory, Le Morte Darthur, Book I:
      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 [...].
    • 1922, E. R. Eddison, The Worm Ouroboros[1], 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

  • ætwītan — to reproach (with), censure, taunt atwite
  • ānwīte n. — single fine
  • bisceopwīte n. — fine payable to a bishop, a bishop's fee for visiting
  • blōdwīte n. — blood-offering
  • dolwīte n. — punishment for audacity, temerity or fool-hardiness
  • edwīt n. — reproach, shame, disgrace, scorn, abuse edwit
  • edwītan, edwītian — to reproach edwite
  • edwītful — disgraceful
  • edwītfullīce adv — disgracefully
  • edwītfullic — disgraceful
  • edwītlīf n. — life of dishonor
  • edwītscipe m. — disgrace, shame
  • edwītsprǣc f. — scorn
  • edwītspreca m. — scoffer
  • edwītstæf m. — reproach, disgrace
  • feohtwīte n. — penalty for fighting
  • feohwite n. — fine for coining false money
  • fyrdwīte n. — fine for evading military service
  • gafolhwītel m. — tribute-blanket, a legal tender instead of coin for the rent of a hide of land
  • gyltwīte, gyldwīte n. — fine for unpaid tax
  • gyrdwīte n. — affliction caused by a rod (used of Moses' rod)
  • hangwīte n. — penally for miscarriage of justice hangwite
  • hellewīte n. — hell-pains, torment
  • hellewītebrōga m. — horror of hell-torment
  • hengwīte n. — fine for not detaining an offender
  • legerwīte fm. — fine for unlawful cohabitation lairwite
  • nēadwīte n. — inevitable punishment
  • orwīge, orwīte — not fighting, unwarlike, cowardly: not liable to the legal consequences (of homicide)
  • scyldwīte n. fine for a crime of violence
  • sorgwīte n. — grievous torment
  • unwītnigendlīce — without punishment, with impunity
  • unwītnod — unpunished
  • unwītnung f. — impunity
  • weardwīte n. — penalty for not keeping guard
  • wītebend mf. — bonds of torture or punishment.
  • wītebrōga m. — tormenting dread.
  • wītefæst — penally enslaved
  • wītehrægl n. – penitential garb, sackcloth
  • wītehūs n. — torture-house, prison, hell: amphitheatre (as place of torture and martyrdom)
  • wītelāc n. — punishment.
  • wītelēas — without punishment or fine
  • wītelēast f. — freedom from punishment or fine
  • wīterǣden f. — punishment, fine
  • wītern n. — prison
  • wītescræf n. – pit of torment, hell
  • wītesteng m. — pole used for torture
  • wītestōw f. — place of torment or execution.
  • wīteswing m. — scourging, punishment.
  • wītetōl n. — instrument of torture.
  • wīteþēow adj. — man reduced to slavery by the law
  • wītiglic — punitive, of punishment
  • wītingstōw, wītnungstōw f. — place of punishment, purgatory
  • witnian — to punish, chastise, torture, afflict
  • wītnigend m. — punitor, punisher
  • wītnung f. torment, torture, punishment, purgatory




  1. Alternative form of wyte.

West FrisianEdit



  1. to know (a fact)


Infinitive: wite
Present tense Past tense
person singular plural singular plural
1st ik wyt wy wite ik wiet wy wieten
2nd do/dû wytst jimme wite do/dû wietst jimme wieten
3rd hy/sy wyt hja wite hy/sy wiet hja wieten
Present participle Imperative Auxiliary Past participle
witend (witende) wyt hawwe witen


Last modified on 13 January 2014, at 18:55