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.
(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.
(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).
(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.
(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.
(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).
(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).
(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.
(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.
(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.
(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.
To reveal (the answer to a question); ppl. witinge, making a disclosure (of a matter to sb.).
To believe (sth.); believe (that sth. is so), opine;—sometimes without that.
(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.
To have in one’s mind (a mental ability or characteristic).
(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.
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.].
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.
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.
The word ‘witen’.