Middle English Dictionary Entry

witen v.(1)
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

Note: Cp. awiten v.(1), iwiten v.(1), ofwiten v. (Suppl.), unwiten v.
1.
(a) To be certain about (sth.);—sometimes with anticipatory hit or this as obj., with noun clause in apposition following; also without obj. in so so clause [2nd quot.]; also, know (a fact); (b) to know for a fact (that sth. is so);—sometimes without that; (c) to know certainly (why sth. is so, what sth. is, etc.); also with anticipatory hit in passive construction [quot. c1390]; (d) with elliptical or truncated noun clause as obj.: to be sure (when, where, etc.); (e) to know (sb., sth., oneself) to be (sth.);—with noun, adj., or phrase as complement; occas. used with ben v. before complement; (f) to know the answer to a question or the truth of a matter, with the object of the verb implicit in the context; (g) in asseverative or hortatory expressions: wite thou (the, ye), wite (hit) wel, etc., be assured (that sth. is so);—sometimes without that; also with anticipatory that as obj., with noun clause in apposition following [quots. c1275 & a1300]; wite she, let her be assured (that sth. is the case); ich wite (you) to seien, I assure you; (h) in phrases: to ~ and nought to wenen, to ~ withouten wene, used as tag: of a certainty and without doubt.
2.
(a) To have knowledge; have knowledge (of sb. or sth.); ppl. nitende, being in ignorance; (b) to be knowledgeable about (a thing or fact); know about (sb., God); (c) to know (much, little, or nothing about sb. or sth.) [sometimes difficult to distinguish the obj. from same word used as adv.]; (d) to know (where one is going); (e) ~ to seien, to inform (sb.); inform (sb. if sb. did sth., where sth. is the case, etc.); don (leten) ~, inform (sb. of sth., that sth. is so, etc.); (f) in rhetorical or parenthetic expressions, often with diminished semantic force: ich wot, ye witen, etc., I (you) know; I know (sth. well); I (you) know (that sth. is the case); etc.; as ich wot, as ye witen, as is witen, etc., as I (you) know, as is known, etc.; it is witen, it is known; it is known (that sth. is the case).
3.
(a) To have firsthand knowledge (of misery, sin, etc.); (b) to be familiar with (sb. or sth.), know of; also, have experiential knowledge of (sth.); also, experience (sth.); (c) to know empirically (that sth. is so, what sth. is, etc.); (d) to know firsthand (sb. to do or have done sth., to have been sth.); also, know firsthand (sb.) to be (sth., from a place) [1st 2 quots.]; have heard (of sb. doing sth.) [quot. c1450(1410)]; (e) to experience feelings of (gratitude, ingratitude); (f) in circumlocutory constructions where the obj. is assumed to be familiar to the audience: thou woste whom (ye witen what) ich mene, you know whom (what) I mean; ther-as she wot, in the place she knows.
4.
(a) To learn the truth; find something out; also in parenthetical as clause [quot. c1400]; also, learn a truth [quot. a1325]; (b) to find out (about sth.), learn; (c) to discover (sb. or sth.); learn (sth.); also, ascertain (sth.);—sometimes with noun clause in apposition following the obj.; (d) to find out (that sth. is so);—sometimes without that; also with anticipatory hit in passive construction [quot. a1375]; (e) to learn (if sth. is so, to whom sth. will happen, etc.); also, ascertain (what sb. or sth. is); also with elliptical noun clause [quot. a1500(a1400)] or inf. phrase [quot. 1450] as obj.; (f) to discover (sb.) to be (sth.);—with noun, adj., or phrase as complement; occas. used with ben v. before complement; also, discover (sb.) to have (come) [quot. c1325]; find (sth. to be kept somewhere) [quot. 1457]; (g) in polite formulas: if ye wille (list) ~, wille ye (thou) ~, etc., if you want to learn.
5.
(a) To be aware (of sth.); ppl. witinge, being fully aware; (b) to be conscious of (sb. or sth.); take note of (sth.); also, bear (sth.) in mind; (c) to be aware (that sth. is so, that sth. will happen, etc.);—occas. without that; (d) to be fully conscious of (what one does or says); be aware of (what God does, where sb. is, etc.); also, be aware of the implications of (what one does or says); (e) to be aware of (sb. or sth.) being (sth., nearby, therein, etc.);—with pron., adj., adv., or phrase as complement; ppl. witinge, being aware of (sb. having done sth.); (f) er ich it wite, er that he wite, er hit be witen, etc., before I (he, anyone) could be or was aware of it, etc., i.e., suddenly; also, unexpectedly; (g) in legal formulas: ~ and witnessen, etc., to realize and witness (sth., that sth. is the case), etc.; wite ye, be aware (that sb. does sth.); wite al manere men, let all men be aware regarding (sb. that sth. is the case); (h) usu. in rhetorical questions, to call a matter to someone’s attention: woste thou, ye witen, etc., do you know (how sth. is the case, why sth. commonly happens, etc.); witen ye what (whi), do you know what (why)?; (i) in polite formulas: plese hit ~, if hit plese you to ~, ich wille ye wite, etc., I respectfully call (sth.) to your attention;—usu. with that clause as obj.; preiinge you to ~, respectfully making you aware (that sth. is the case).
6.
(a) To have sufficient knowledge to decide (whether to do sth., what to say, etc.);—usu. with negative; (b) to have sufficient knowledge to predict (an event, when sth. will happen, etc.); be able to predict (that sth. will be so, etc.);—usu. with negative; (c) to be able to think of (a plan, a manner to act, etc.); (d) ne ~ alive, ne ~ in (in the, in this) world, to have no idea (what one may do, etc.); ne ~ to (forto) seien, have no idea (whether sth. is the case, where sth. is from).
7.
(a) To expect (sth.); be confident (that sb. will do sth.); also in mixed construction [quot. a1225; for construction cp. wenen v.(2) 1.(c)]; ppl. witinge, expecting (sth. to occur); also, as adj.: confident [quot. a1150]; (b) to know that one will (do sth.); know that one will be able (to do sth.), expect; (c) whanne the leste woste (he leste wot), when you expect (he expects) it least.
8.
(a) To understand (sth., that sth. is so, what sb. means, how sth. is done, etc.); also with anticipatory hit and noun clause in apposition following [quot. c1425]; (b) to understand (a reason);—usu. used with clause or truncated clause as obj.; ~ the cause (wher-fore, whi, etc.); (c) to take (sth.) as a meaning or interpretation.
9.
(a) To penetrate to the true nature or state of (sth).; realize (that sb. is sth., that sth. is so, etc.); also with anticipatory that as obj., with noun clause in apposition following [1st quot.]; (b) to know truly and fully (if sth. is the case, what sth. is, etc.); (c) ppl. witinge as quasi-adv.: with full knowledge; witinge and willinge, willi and witinge, etc.
10.
(a) To be alert [quot. a1450 Yk.Pl.]; perceive (sth.), notice, observe; fig. detect (sin); also, observe or perceive (sb.) to be (in a certain state, somewhere, etc.); observe (that sth. occurred); also with anticipatory hit in passive construction [quot. a1450(a1338)]; dol hit was to ~, hit was wonder (gret merveille) to ~, etc.; (b) to recognize (sb. or sth.); recognize (sb.) to be (a relative); recognize (when sth. occurs); (c) to be able to distinguish (good and evil), discern; also, be able to identify (a type of sin) [quots. a1425 & ?c1430]; ppl. witinge, in name for the tree of Paradise.
11.
To reveal (the answer to a question); ppl. witinge, making a disclosure (of a matter to sb.).
12.
To believe (sth.); believe (that sth. is so), opine;—sometimes without that.
13.
(a) To inquire (if sb. will do sth., etc.), ask (whatever one wishes); also, ask (sb. who sb. is), ask (of sb. whether sth. happened, if sb. would do sth., etc.); (b) ?to make inquiries.
14.
To have in one’s mind (a mental ability or characteristic).
15.
(a) To have a skill in (an art or a craft); (b) to know how to do something; also, be able (to do sth.), know how.
16a.
In stock phrases alluding to the omniscience of the deity, not readily assignable to a specific sense: (a) god wot, God alone knows (what will happen, what sth. means, etc.), no man can tell, I have no idea; ich not god wot, god wot and ich not, etc., God knows and I do not (whether sth. is so, etc.), God alone knows; he wot that wot, only God knows who knows (everything); (b) god wot hou (in what manere), God knows how (in what manner), i.e., poorly, dubiously, inappropriately; drihten wot hou long, God knows how long, i.e., for a very long time; (c) in asseverative expressions, usu. parenthetical: god (hit) wot, wite crist, god wot the soth (min wille), etc., God knows, as God is my witness, to be certain, etc.; also, God knows (that sth. is the case), etc. [cp. goddot interj.].
16b.
In other stock phrases: (a) for ought ich (he) wot, as far as I know (he knows); that ich wot (thou wistest, etc.), to my (your) knowledge; (b) and ye (who-so) hit wiste, if you (one) knew about it; who-so wiste the soth, if one knew the truth of the matter; wiste ye min wille, if you only knew what I have in mind; (c) ne ~ (hit) but, not to know otherwise than that (sth. be the case); ne ~ on lif, be unable to say for certain (whether sth. is not the case); (d) that is to (forto) ~, namely, that is to say; also glossing L scilicet [quot. a1425]; also, that is to say (that sth. is the case, etc.); (e) ich not hou ofte, I cannot say how often, i.e., frequently; ich not hou mani, I don’t know how many, i.e., a great number; ich not what, I know not what; (f) to (forto) ~, as tag: indeed.
17.
In misc. combs: had-ich-wiste [see also had-I-wist(e n.]; ich wot never (not) who, as name of allegorical figure representing those who fall heir to a dead man’s goods.
18.
The word ‘witen’.