Show Search Results Show Browse

A Dictionary of the Older Scottish Tongue (up to 1700)

Hide Quotations Hide Etymology

Abbreviations Cite this entry

About this entry:
First published 2002 (DOST Vol. XII).
This entry has not been updated since then but may contain minor corrections and revisions.

Wit(e, Wyt(e, n. Also: vit, witte, wight, vyt(e, uyte, wyit(t, -et, vyit, wytt, wycht, quhyt, wait(t, wayt, weit, weytt. [ME and e.m.E. wite (c1175), wijt(te (both Cursor M.), wyte (Chaucer), witte (c1440), wytte (1470-85), wyght (1528), waite (1600), OE wíte, ON víti.]

1. Blame, fault; blameworthiness. Also, in legal contexts, fault, responsibility for instigating or carrying out an illegal act. Also attrib. with Layar n., appar. in a personal name, one who lays the blame, an accuser or prosecutor in a legal case.(1) a1400 Leg. S. xxxii 632.
In science he wox parfyt & leid his lyf for-outyne wit
a1500 Lay of Sorrow 37.
Gif I pray than semith myn the wyte
1544 Corr. M. Lorraine 107.
I trest the wyit of this that he did was alluterlie be my Lady Errollis cast
1606 Birnie Kirk-b. xix.
The wyte makes a wrong no more the better, nor did the trajection of our first parents fall
1677 M. P. Brown Suppl. Decis. III 179.
There were no children … of the marriage … because it was her own wyte that did not cohabit
(2) 1516 Fife Sheriff Ct. 48.
The saidis Dauid & Marioune … war qwytt … of the said distroubilance bloid drauing & of the witte of the samyn
1518–9 Fife Sheriff Ct. 132.
Duncane Jamisone [etc.] … war maid quit be the said assise of the wyte of bloid & spoilȝe alegeit done to Johnne Scott
1524 Carnwath Baron Ct. (SHS) 18.
Jhon Veir grantit the blud & deniit the vyt
1531 Hannay College of Justice 34.
And he falȝe to do the samin it salbe imput to his negligence and wyte
1609 Kirkcudbr. B. Rec. II 54.
Decernis William Fullartoun … in v merkis of vnlaw for stryking Niniane McClamroch … and decernis Niniane for vyte conforme to the actis
1667 Stitchill Baron Ct. 48.
Doe all in ane voyce convict and declare … ilke ane to be guilty of the wyte of the said ryot
(3) 1317 Aberd. B. Rec. (SHS) 8.
Alexandrum Wytleyir, prelocutorem suum inculpauit Adam Fullonem quod idem Adam [gap] sua defamauerat, vocando ipsum falsum hominem
1317 Aberd. B. Rec. (SHS) 9.
Eodem die Johannes Halt per Alexandrum Wytleyir [gap] inculpauit [gap] Tidemannum Breme [etc.]
1317 Aberd. B. Rec. (SHS) 14.
Eodem die … comparauerunt in curia Johannes [etc.] … actores ex parte una, constituentes Dauid Cryn et Alexandrum Wytleyir suos prolocutores

b. To have (get, beir) (the) wite (of), to be at fault. Also proverb.(1) a1400 Leg. S. iii 804.
Fore commowne profyt, To wre leile men that had no wyt
1443–4 Aberd. B. Rec. I 10.
That Marioune … hes complaynit … that he … had al the wite
c1450-2 Howlat 68 (B).
I se be my schaddow my schap hes the wyte
1501 Doug. Pal. Hon. 2165.
Thy vile indite Sall not be mine. I will not haue the wite!
1513 Doug. ix Prol. 71.
Gyf ocht be weill thank Virgil … Quhar ocht is bad … My lewytnes … hes all the wyte
1531 Bell. Boece II 164.
Quhen uncouth ky fechtis … gif ane … happenis to be slane and uncertane quhat kow maid the slauchter the kow that is homill sall beir the wyte [M. wite]
1564–5 Prot. Bk. Thomas Johnsoun 142 (see Wit n. 8 a).
a1568 Scott xxxiv 129.
Thus ȝe haif all the wyte … That suld haif wit … And wisdome
1600-1610 Melvill 54.
The regent keipit the benefice in his hand undisponit mikle of twa yeir, alleaging, that Mr. Andro haid the wait, wha … wald defraud that collage … of sic a benefit because of his new opiniones
1603 Philotus 292.
His wyfe gets all the wyte
c1610 Melville Mem. 80.
Gene ane promysis be maid … and not kepit, the king nor I has not the wyet
1634 Sel. Biog. I 282.
It is not my going that has the wyte, but my miscarrying minde
1639 Baillie I 183.
Let these whose untymous rigour hes at leist some part of the wyte answer it
proverb. a1598 Ferg. Prov. MS No. 1436.
What wyt had the kid quhat the auld goat did
(2) 1443 Aberd. Sheriff Ct. I 415.
Oure said cousin … has na wyte of the gret hereship made … vpon yhou
1456 Hay II 30/4.
Knychtis has mare wite of the mysgovernaunce … and mare dishonoure
a1487 Gud Wyf & D. 269.
c1500-c1512 Dunb. (OUP) 149/101.
Quod Ressoun than, The ballance gois unevin … I have not wyt thairof, quod Temperance
1533 Dunferm. Reg. Ct. 104.
Gif he hed the wyit or ony falt art and part of the samyn
1535 Stewart 14433.
His negligens … Had all the wyit of his calamitie
1543 Linlithgow B. Ct. 2 April.
Se gyf thair be ony faltis in Godis seruice … and quha hes the wit thairof
1571 Sat. P. xxvi 80.
Spair all sic … had na wyte of nouther of thair deids
1600 Acts IV 208/1.
He … cryit … 'Allace! I had na wyte of it'
1602 Conv. Burghs II 140.
Gif the geir be spilt be leik, quhairof the skipper … hes na wyitt
1605 Dundonald Par. Rec. 75.
He haid the vyt of all the ill weddir the yeir
c1610 Jok Uplandis Newis 1a.
Now guid man quhat neides yow spear … nothing has the wyte of this bot pryde
1628 Linlithgow B. Rec. 8 Feb.
That he had the wyitt of all done to the craft for selling deir schoone
(b) Hawick Arch. Soc. (1908) 100.
Her Majesty said that all the shame that wes done, that, my Lord, ye shall have the wight of

c. To (im)put, lay, give, etc. wite to or with indirect object, (up)on or in a person. Also with wite as the subject of redundis.(1) ?14.. Ship Laws c. 21 (H2).
Geif thai tak scaith the maistir is haldin to mak all gude and he aw nocht to put the wite to the ladismane
c1450-2 Howlat 995 (A).
Wryth me now wyte
1460 Hay Alex. 203.
Thair may nane put wyte vnto the worthie king
1528 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 295.
Sa that weir sal happin to mufe tharthrow, the hale wyte tharof salbe laid to his charge
1528 Douglas Corr. 138.
I gave his grace na wyte of ocht that was done to me
1533 Boece 411b.
The hale wite of the murthure suld be ascrivit to the cubicularis
1535 Stewart 8632.
Put the wyte of all the haill mischance Till ill gyding
1535 Stewart 30159.
No wyit thairof to thame redundis
1537 Acts Sederunt i 31.
That na wite, reproche, nor cryme, be imput to him thairfor
1555 Aberd. B. Rec. I 283.
1681 Colvil Whig's Suppl. (1681) i 59.
Other some brought home the pox; Giving foul linnings all the wite
(b) 1550 Reg. Privy C. I 104.
In caise ony failȝie be maid, he salbe … accusit thairfor, and the witte salbe imputt to him as accordis
(c) a1578 Pitsc. II 157/27.
They gif ȝow the haill quhyt
(d) 1561 M. Napier Mem. J. Napier 74.
Gyf Jhone makis ane uthir rehairs to excus hymself, and to put the weit to me Lord, belyf it nocht
(2) a1508 Want of Wyse Men 50 (Bann.).
Quha hes the war is worthin on him all the wyte
1535 Stewart 6762.
I bid nocht for to nyit On thé he lais the haill caus and the wyit
a1570-86 Maitl. F. 39/51.
Sum the wyt on thair wyffis layis
1563-1570 Buch. Wr. 34.
Of all this ȝe can lay the wyte on na man vther bot ȝour selffis
c1600 Montg. Suppl. xxv 12.
Mistrust … hes baneist esperance That I am forceit to perische quhae sould mair & trast the wyte vpon rememberance
1614 Melrose P. 164.
Ane verie byiting lettre, laying the weytt of the taking of the house … vpoun the negligence of my keiparis thairof
16.. Hist. Kennedy 41.
1648 Baillie III 46.
Casting the wyte on others
(b) 1600-1610 Melvill 688.
The abot laid all the waitt on the bisschoppes
(3) a1568 Bann. MS 13a/112.
The serpent … Perswadit me … In him lyis all the wyte
1629 Maxwell Mem. II 202.
I was plane with his lordship that he was pairt of the wayt thairof … he pat the wayt in me

d. (To be) in (the, his) wite (of something), to be in the wrong.(a) 1425–6 Acts II 12/2.
Gif the balȝeis … findis na man in wyte bot of suddande case that may nocht be forsene [etc.]
1518–9 Fife Sheriff Ct. 132.
[They] had wranguslye … draune bloid … and war baith in the wyt tharof
1530 Misc. Spald. C. IV 141.
Gif the said George … beis diuorcit … fra the said Elizabeth … and the said George in his wyt and defalt will not contract mariage lauchfully agane with hir
1540 Lynd. Sat. 2114.
Of that cummer I sall mak ȝou quyt Howbeid ȝowr self be in the wyte And mak ane fals narratioun
1546 Acta Conc. Publ. Aff. 548.
[The lords found the macer to be the cause and mover] and in the wyte
1560 Cal. Sc. P. I 488.
[I can] wyt [no man but him, being in office, but whoever is in] wyt [ … ye know the great inconvenience which will follow]
1606 Inverness Rec. II 41.
The judges … fund the said Thomas in the weit
1643 Falkirk Baron Ct. 9 June.
Vnlawis the said Allexander … in ten pundis he being fand in the wyte of all
1643 Baillie II 65.
I am much in the wrong, and yow are a part in the wait of it
1668 Corshill Baron Ct. 79.
Likewise found the said Jonet in wytt thairof by her provocationes
(b) 1607 Melrose Reg. Rec. I 52.
The inqueist fyles Androw Davidsone in the wycht of the tuilȝe betuix him and Jhone Wauchie

e. Of blame: To be (ly, remain) in a person or thing. 1513 Doug. xiii vii 86.
I trastit evir thar was no wyte in thé
1535 Stewart 34355.
Sayand … Of the grit wrang wes done to him … the wyit wes all into his bruther
15.. Clar. ii 312.
Lady, in him lyis all the wyt; Bot ȝit … Ȝe sall have mercie heir of his misdeid
1569–70 Waus Corr. 67.
We protest … that the wyt is nocht in ws bot in thame that refuissis
1570 6th Rep. Hist. MSS App. 646/1.
Gif the saidis masounis … happyn to ly idill for non furnissing of the said money … the wyte thairof sall nocht be in the saidis masounis bot in the inlaik of money
a1599 Rollock Wks. I 392.
The wyte is in ȝour blindnes that ar appointed to damnation
1605-6 Welsh Forty-eight Serm. 485.
What is the cause that so many perish? … the wyte is in the men themselves
1611-57 Mure Early Misc. P. iv 15.
Causles is sche blaim'd, in hir no wayt remaines
1614 Aberd. Council Lett. I 128.
For I have … send you thair counsell quhilk ye refusit … swa that the wyt be in ȝour selff
1615 Fraserburgh Kirk S. 45b (17 Jan.).
That … scho sould returne to cohabeit with hir husband or els to report ewidence that the wyt was in him

2. The source or origin of blame; the instigator of something blameworthy. 1513 Doug. i Prol. 360 (Sm.).
Our langage is imperfite, Quhilk in sum part is the caus and the wite, Quhy that of Virgillis vers the ornate bewtie Intill our toung may nocht obseruit be
1513 Doug. xii x 115.
Scho was the caus and wyte of all this greif
1535 Stewart 25064.
How Wortigerne wes all the caus and wyte Of baith the battellis
1560 Rolland Seven S. 2454.
I am the wite … of hir deid
a1568 Bann. MS 212a/21.
I dreid me soir that thow be fund the wyt
1568 Cal. Sc. P. II 498.
Hir grace self is all the wyitt
1558-66 Knox II 70.
Sche was nocht the wyte, bot the wickit counsell of hir freyndis
1591 Annandale Corr. 275.
We ar nocht the occasioun nor wyte of ony evill heirefter
1596 Crim. Trials I ii 396.
Williame Bannatyne wes the wyte of all the Maister of Orknayis plattis laying
1598 James VI Basil. Doron 90/5.
Thay are the speciall uyte of the corruption of the cunyee
a1599 Rollock Wks. I 396.
Thou mon ever be the wyte of thy awin deith
1629 Monteith Stewartry Ct. 17 Dec.
Jon Mcgrewour … was the wytt and occasioun of the blude … committit be him vpoun the said Jon
1629 Maxwell Mem. II 202 (see 1 c above).

3. Further examples of Bludewite n. 2. 1147–1218 Liber Calchou in Barrow Anglo-Norman Era App. C 119.
c1200–10 Barrow Anglo-Norman Era App. C 202.

You may wish to vary the format shown below depending on the citation style used.

"Wit n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 24 May 2024 <>



Hide Advanced Search

Browse DOST: