Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



WISE, a. s as z. [G., to know., L.]

1. Properly, having knowledge; hence, having the power of discerning and judging correctly, or of discriminating between what is true and what is false; between what is fit and proper, and what is improper; as a wise prince; a wise magistrate. Solomon was deemed the wisest man. But a man may be speculatively and not practically wise. Hence,

2. Discrete and judicious in the use or applications of knowledge; choosing laudable ends, and the best means to accomplish them. This is to be practically wise. Genesis 41:33.

3. Skillful; dextrous.

They are wise to do evil, but to do good they have no knowledge. Jeremiah 4:22.

4. Learned; knowing; as the wise and the unwise. Romans 1:14.

5. Skilled in arts, science, philosophy, or in magic and divination. 2 Samuel 14:2.

6. Godly; pious. Proverbs 13:1.

--The holy Scriptures, which are able to make thee wise to salvation. 2 Timothy 3:15.

7. Skilled in hidden arts; a sense somewhat ironical; as the wise woman of Brainford.

8. Dictated or guided by wisdom; containing wisdom; judicious; well adapted to produce good effects; applicable to things; as a wise saying; a wise scheme or plan; wise conduct or management; a wise determination.

9. Becoming a wise man; grave; discrete; as wise deportment.

WISE, n. s as z. [G.] Manner; way of being or acting.

This song she sings in most commanding wise.

In fittest wise.

In the foregoing form, this word is obsolete, the use of it is now very limited. It is common in the following phrases.

1. In any wise.

If he that sanctified the field will in any wise redeem it-- Leviticus 27:19.

Fret not thyself in any wise. Psalm 37:8.

2. On this wise.

On this wise ye shall bless the children of Israel. Numbers 6:23.

3. In no wise. He shall in no wise lose his reward. Matthew 10:42.

It is used in composition, as in likewise, otherwise, lengthwise, etc. By mistake, ways is often used for it; as lengthways, for lengthwise.

WISEACRE, n. More correctly wisesager. [G., a sayer, a predictor or foreteller.] One who makes pretensions to great wisdom; hence in contempt, a simpleton; a dunce.

WISE-HEARTED, a. [wise and heart.] Wise; knowing; skillful. Exodus 28:3.

WISELING, n. One who pretends to be wise.

WISELY, adv.

1. Prudently; judiciously; discretely; with wisdom. Proverbs 16:20; Proverbs 21:12.

2. Craftily; with art or stratagem.

Let us deal wisely with them. Exodus 1:10.

WISENESS, n. Wisdom.

WISH, v.i. [G.]

1. To have a desire, or strong desire, either for what is or is not supposed to be obtainable. It usually expresses less than long; but sometimes it denotes to long or wise earnestly. We often wise for what is not obtainable.

This is as good an argument as an antiquary could wish for.

They have more than heart could wish. Psalm 73:7.

I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper. 3 John 2.

They cast four anchors out of the stern, and wished for the day. Acts 27:29.

2. To be disposed or inclined; as, to wish well to anothers affairs.

3. It sometimes partakes of hope or fear. I wish the event may prove fortunate, or less calamitous than we apprehend.

WISH, v.t.

1. To desire. I wish your prosperity.

Let them be driven backward and put to shame, that wish me evil. Psalm 40:14.

2. To long for; to desire eagerly or ardently. It has this sense when expressed with emphasis.

3. To recommend by wishing.

I would not wish them to a fairer death.

4. To imprecate; as, to wish curses on an enemy.

5. To ask; to express desire.

WISH, n.

1. Desire; sometimes, eager desire. Job 33:6.

2. Desire expressed.

Blisterd be thy tongue for such a wish.

3. Thing desired. He has his wish.

The difference between wish and desire seems to be, that desire is directed to what is obtainable, and a wish may be directed to what is obtainable or not.

WISHED, pp. Desired; or ardently desired.

WISHER, n. One who desires; one who expresses a wish.


1. Having desire, or ardent desire.

2. Showing desire; as wishful eyes.

3. Desirable; exciting wishes. [Bad.]


1. With desire or ardent desire.

2. With the show of desiring.

WISHING, ppr. Desiring.

WISKET, n. A basket.

WISP, n. [G.] A small bundle of straw or other like substance; as a wisp of straw; a wisp of hay; a wisp of herbs.

WIST, pret. of wis.

WISTFUL, a. [from wist. The sense is stretching or reaching towards.] Full of thoughts; earnest; attentive.

Why--dost thou so wistful seem?

WISTFULLY, adv. Attentively; earnestly.

WISTIT, n. The striated monkey; a small species of monkey from South America, with an annulated tail, the ouistiti of Buffon.

WISTLY, adv. Earnestly.

WIT, v.i. [G., to know. See Wise.] To know. This verb is used only in the infinitive, to wit, namely, that is to say. [L.]

WIT, n. [See the verb and Wise.]

1. Primarily, the intellect; the understanding or mental powers.

Will puts in practice what the wit deviseth.

For wit and power their last endeavors bend t outshine each other.

2. The association of ideas in a manner natural, but unusual and striking, so as to produce surprise joined with pleasure. Wit is defined.

What oft was thought, but neer so well expressd.

Wit consists in assembling and putting together with quickness, ideas in which can be found resemblance and congruity, by which to make up pleasant pictures and agreeable visions in the fancy.

Wit consists chiefly in joining things by distant and fanciful relations, which surprise us because they are unexpected.

Wit is a propriety of thoughts and words; or in other terms, thoughts and words elegantly adapted to the subject.

3. The faculty of associating ideas in a new and unexpected manner.

4. A man of genius; as, the age of Addison abounded with wits.

A wit herself, Amelia weds a wit.

5. A man of fancy or wit.

Intemperate wits will spare neither friend nor foe.

6. Sense; judgment.

He wants not wit the danger to decline.

7. Faculty of the mind.

8. Wits, in the plural, soundness of mind; intellect not disordered; sound mind. No man in his wits would venture on such an expedition. Have you lost your wits? Is he out of his wits?

9. Power of invention; contrivance; ingenuity. He was at his wits end.


1. A woman who by compact with the devil, practices sorcery or enchantment.

2. A woman who is given to unlawful arts.

3. A winding sinuous bank.

WITCH, v.t. To bewitch; to fascinate; to enchant.

Ill witch sweet ladies with my words and looks.

WITCHCRAFT, [witch and craft.]

1. The practices of witches; sorcery; enchantments; intercourse with the devil.

2. Power more than natural.

He hath a witchcraft over the king ins tongue.

WITCH-ELM, n. A kind of elm.


1. Sorcery; enchantment.

2. Fascination.


1. A species of elm, (Ulmus montana.)

2. The hop-hornbeam, (carpinus ostrya.)

The Virginian witch-hazel is the Hamemelis virginica, a shrub which flowers in autumn when its leaves are falling.

WIT-CRACKER, n. [wit and cracker.] One who breaks jests; a joker. [Not in use.]

WIT-CRAFT, n. [wit and craft.] Contrivance; invention.

WITE, v.t. To reproach; to blame.

WITE, n. Blame; reproach.

WITELESS, a. Blameless.

WIT-FISH, n. [white fish.] An East Indian fish of the size of a whiting; also, another East Indian fish, the Albula Indica of Ray.

WITH, prep. [G.]

1. By, noting cause, instrument or means. We are distressed with pain; we are elevated with joy. With study men become learned and respectable. Fire is extinguished with water.

2. On the side of, noting friendship or favor.

Fear not, for I am with thee. Genesis 26:24.

3. In opposition to; in competition or contest; as, to struggle with adversity. The champions fought with each other an hour. He will lie with any man living.

4. Noting comparison. The fact you mention compares well with another I have witnessed.

5. In company. The gentlemen traveled with me from Boston to Philadelphia.

6. In the society of. There is no living with such neighbors.

7. In connection, or in appendage. He gave me the Bible, and with it the warmest expressions of affection.

8. In mutual dealing or intercourse.

I will buy with you, sell with you--

9. Noting confidence. I will trust you with the secret.

10. In partnership. He shares the profits with the other partners. I will share with you the pleasures and the pains.

11. Noting connection.

Nor twist our fortunes with your sinking fate.

12. Immediately after.

With this he pointed to his face.

13. Among. I left the assembly with the last.

Tragedy was originally with the ancients a piece of religious worship.

14. Upon.

Such arguments had invincible force with those pagan philosophers.

15. In consent, noting parity of state.

See! Where on earth the flowry glories lie, with her they flourishd, and with her thy die.

With and by are closely allied in many of their uses, and it is not easy to lay down a rule by which their uses may be distinguished. It is observed by Johnson that with seems rather to denote an instrument, and by a cause; as, he killed an enemy with a sword, but he died by an arrow. But this rule is not always observed.

With, in composition, signifies for the most part opposition, privation; or separation, departure.

WITH, WITHE, n. [L., probably a shoot.]

1. A willow twig.

2. A band consisting of a twig, or twigs twisted.

WITHAL, adv. Withaul. [with and all.]

1. With the rest; together with; likewise; at the same time.

If you choose that, then I am yours withal.

How modest in exception, and withal how terrible in constant resolution!

2. It is sometimes used for with. But the word is not elegant, nor much used.

WITHDRAW, v.t. [with and draw.]

1. To take back; to take from.

It is impossible that God should withdraw his presence from any thing.

We say, to withdraw capital from a bank or stock in trade, to withdraw aid or assistance.

2. To recall; to cause to retire or leave; to call back or away. France has withdrawn her troops from Spain.

WITHDRAW, v.i. To retire; to retreat; to quit a company or place. We withdrew from the company at ten o’clock.

She from her husband soft withdrew.

WITHDRAWING, ppr. Taking back; recalling; retiring.

WITHDRAWING-ROOM, n. A room behind another room for retirement; a drawing room.

WITHDRAWMENT, n. The act of withdrawing or taking back; a recalling.

Their withdrawment from the British and Foreign Bible Society, would tend to paralyze their exertions.

WITHDRAWN, pp. of withdraw. Recalled; taken back.

WITHER, v.i.

1. To fade; to lose its native freshness; to become sapless; to dry.

It shall wither in all the leaves of her spring. Ezekiel 17:9.

2. To waste; to pine away; as animal bodies; as a withered hand. Matthew 12:10.

3. To lose or want animal moisture.

Now warm in love, now withring in the grave.

WITHER, v.t.

1. To cause to fade and become dry; as, the sun withereth the grass. James 1:11.

2. To cause to shrink, wrinkle and decay, for want of animal moisture.

Age cannot wither her.

WITHER-BAND, n. [withers and band.] A piece of iron laid under a saddle near a horses withers, to strengthen the bow.

WITHERED, pp. Faded; dried; shrunk.

WITHEREDNESS, n. The state of being withered.

WITHERING, ppr. Fading; becoming dry.

WITHERITE, n. In mineralogy, a carbonate of baryte, first discovered by Dr. Withering; rhomboidal baryte. It is white, gray, or yellow.

WITHERNAM, n. In withernam, in law, a second or reciprocal distress, in lieu of a first distress which has been eloigned; reprisal.

WITHERS, n. [This seems to signify a joining, from the root of with.] The juncture of the shoulder bones of a horse, at the bottom of the neck.

WITHER-WRUNG, a. Injured or hurt in the withers, as a horse.

WITHHELD, pret. and pp. of withhold.

WITHHOLD, v.t. pret. and pp. withheld. [with and hold.]

1. TO hold back; to restrain; to keep from action.

Withhold--your hasty hand.

If our passions may be withheld.

2. To retain; to keep back; not to grant; as, to withhold assent to a proposition. The sun does not withhold his light.

WITHHOLDEN, pp. The old participle of withhold; now obsolete. We use withheld.

WITHHOLDER, n. One that withholds.

WITHHOLDING, ppr. Holding back; restraining; retaining; not granting.

WITHIN, prep.

1. In the inner part; as the space within the walls of a house; a man contented and happy within himself.

2. In the limits or compass of; not beyond; used of place and time. The object is within my sight; within the knowledge of the present generation; within a month or a year.

3. Not reaching to any thing external.

Were every action concluded within itself--

4. In the compass of; not longer ago than.

Within these five hours Hastings livd untainted.

5. Not later than; as, within five days from this time, it will be fair weather.

6. In the reach of.

Both he and she are still within my power.

7. Not exceeding. Keep your expenses within your income.

8. In the heart or confidence of. [Inelegant.]

9. In the house; in any inclosure.

WITHIN, adv.

1. In the inner part; inwardly; internally.

The wound festers within.

2. In the mind.

Ills from within thy reason must prevent.

WITHINSIDE, adv. [within and side.] In the inner parts. [Bad.]

WITHOUT, prep.

1. Not with; as without success.

2. In a state of destitution or absence from.

There is no living with thee nor without thee.

3. In a state of destitution or absence from.

There is no living with thee nor without thee.

4. Beyond; not within.

Eternity, before the world and after, is without our reach.

5. Supposing the negation or omission of.

Without the separation of the two monarchies, the most advantageous terms from the French must end in our destruction.

6. Independent of; not by the use of. Men like to live without labor.

Wise men will do it without a law.

7. On the outside of; as without the gate; without doors.

8. With exemption from. That event cannot happen without great damage to our interests.

9. Unless; except.

Without, when it precedes a sentence or member of a sentence, has been called a conjunction. This is a mistake. You will not enjoy health, without you use much exercise. In this sentence, without is a preposition still, but followed by a member of a sentence, instead of a single noun. It has no property of a connective or conjunction, and does not fall within the definition. You will not enjoy health, this fact following being removed, or not taking place; you use exercise. This use of without, is nearly superseded by unless and except, among good writers and speakers; but is common in popular discourse or parlance.


1. Not on the inside; not within.

These were from without the growing miseries.

2. Out of doors.

3. Externally; not in the mind.

Without were fightings, within were fears. 2 Corinthians 7:5.

WITHOUTEN, for withoutan, the Saxon word, is obsolete.

WITHSTAND, v.t. [with and stand. See Stand.] To oppose; to resist, either with physical or moral force; as, to withstand the attack of troops; to withstand eloquence or arguments.

When Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to his face. Galatians 2:11.

WITHSTANDER, n. One that opposes; an opponent; a resisting power.

WITHSTANDING, ppr. Opposing; making resistance.

WITH-VINE, WITH-WINE, n. A local name for the couch-grass.

WITHWIND, n. A plant. [L.]

WITHY, n. A large species of willow.

WITLESS, a. [wit and less.]

1. Destitute of wit or understanding; inconsiderate; wanting thought; as a witless swain; witless youth.

2. Indiscrete; not under the guidance of judgment; as witless bravery.

WITLESSLY, adv. Without the exercise of judgment.

WITLING, n. [dim. From with.] A person who has little wit or understanding; a pretender to wit or smartness.

A beau and witling perishd in the throng.


1. Testimony; attestation of a fact or event.

If I bear witness of myself, my witness is not true. John 5:31.

2. That which furnishes evidence or proof.

Laban said, this heap is a witness between me and thee this day. Genesis 31:48.

3. A person who knows or sees any thing; one personally present; as, he was witness; he was an eye-witness. 1 Peter 5:1.

4. One who sees the execution of an instrument, and subscribes it for the purpose of confirming its authenticity b his testimony.

5. One who gives testimony; as, the witnesses in court agreed in all essential facts.

With a witness, effectually; to a great degree; with great force, so as to leave some mark as a testimony behind. He struck with a witness. [Not elegant.]


1. To see or know by personal presence. I witnessed the ceremonies in New York, with which the ratification of the constitution was celebrated, in 1788.

2. To attest; to give testimony to; to testify to something.

Behold, how many things they witness against thee. Mark 15:4.

3. To see the execution of an instrument, and subscribe it for the purpose of establishing its authenticity; as, to witness a bond or a deed.


1. To bear testimony.

The men of Belial witnessed against him, even against Naboth. 1 Kings 21:13.

2. To give evidence.

The shew of their countenance doth witness against them. Isaiah 3:9.

WITNESSED, pp. Seen in person; testified; subscribed by persons present; as a deed witnessed by two persons.

WITNESSING, ppr. Seeing in persons; bearing testimony; giving evidence.

WIT-SNAPPER, n. [wit and snap.] One who affects repartee. [Not in use.]

WIT-STARVED, a. Barren of wit; destitute of genius.

WITTED, a. Having wit or understanding; as a quick witted boy.

WITTICISM, n. [from wit.] A sentence or phrase which is affectedly witty; a low kind of wit.

--He is full of conceptions, points of epigram, and witticisms; all which are below the dignity of heroic verse.

WITTILY, adv. [from wit.]

1. With wit; with a delicate turn or phrase, or with an ingenious association of ideas.

2. Ingeniously; cunningly; artfully.

Who his own harm so wittily contrives.

WITTINESS, n. [from witty.] The quality of being witty.

WITTINGLY, adv. [See Wit.] Knowingly; with knowledge; by design.

He knowingly and wittingly brought evil into the world.

WITTOL, n. A man who knows his wifes infidelity and submits to it; a tame cuckold.

WITTOLLY, adv. Like a tame cuckold.

WITTY, a. [from wit.]

1. Possessed of wit; full of wit; as a witty poet.

2. Judicious; ingenious; inventive.

3. Sarcastic; full of taunts.

Honeycomb was unmercifully witty upon the women.

WITWALL, n. A bird, the great spotted woodpecker.

WIT-WORM, n. [wit and worm.] One that feeds on wit. [Not in use.]

WIVE, v.i. [from wife.] to marry. [Not in use.]

WIVE, v.t.

1. To match to a wife.

2. To take for a wife. [Not in use.]

WIVEHOOD, n. Behavior becoming a wife. [It should be wifehood.]

WIVELESS, a. Not having a wife. [It should be wifeless.]

WIVELY, a. Pertaining to a wife. [It should be wifely.]

WIVER, WIVERIN, n. A kind of heraldric dragon.

WIVES, plu. of wife.

WIZARD, n. [from wise.] A conjurer; an enchanter; a sorcerer. Leviticus 20:27.

The wily wizard must be caught.


1. Enchanting; charming.

2. Haunted by wizards.

WIZEN, v.i. To wither; to dry. [Local.]

WO, WOE, n. [G.]

1. Grief; sorrow; misery; a heavy calamity.

One woe is past; and behold, there come two woes more hereafter. Revelation 9:12.

They weep each others wo.

2. A curse.

Can there be a wo or curse in all the stores of vengeance, equal to the malignity of such a practice?

3. Wo is used in denunciation, and in exclamations of sorrow.

Wo is me; for I am undone. Isaiah 6:5.

This is properly the Saxon dative, wo is to me.

Wo worth the day. This is also the dative; wo be to the day.

Wo is a noun, and if used as an adjective, it is improperly used. Wo to you that are rich. Wo to that man, by whom the offense cometh; that is, misery, calamity, be or will be to him.

WOAD, n. [G.] A plant of the genus Isatis, cultivated for the use of dyers. The woad blue is a very deep blue, and is the base of many other colors or shades of color. Woad is first bruised in a mill, and then made into balls. It grows wild in France and along the coasts of the Baltic. The term woad is applied to the Reseda, weld or wold, and to the Genista tinctoria or dyers broom.

WOAD-MILL, n. A mill for bruising and preparing woad.

WOBEGONE, a. [wo, be, and gone.] Overwhelmed with wo; immersed in grief and sorrow.

So wobegone was he with pains of love.

WODANIUM, n. A metal recently discovered in a species of pyrite, found in Hungary, which had been supposed to be an ore of cobalt. It has a bronze yellow color.

WOESOME, a. Wosum. Woful. [Not in use.]

WOFT, for waft. [Not in use.]


1. Sorrowful; distressed with grief or calamity; afflicted.

How many woful widows left to bow to sad disgrace!

2. Sorrowful; mournful; full of distress; as woful day. Jeremiah 17:16.

3. Bringing calamity, distress or affliction; as a woful event; woful want.

4. Wretched; paltry.

What woful stuff this madrigal would be.


1. Sorrowfully; mournfully; in a distressing manner.

2. Wretchedly; extremely; as, he will be wofully deceived.

WOFULNESS, n. Misery; calamity.

WOLD, in Saxon, is the same as wald and weald, a wood, sometimes perhaps a lawn or plain. Wald signifies also power, dominion, from waldan, to rule. These words occur in names.

WOLF, n. WULF. [G., Gr.]

1. An animal of the genus Canis, a beast of prey that kills sheep and other small domestic animals; called sometimes the wild dog. The wolf is crafty, greedy and ravenous.

2. A small white worm or maggot, which infests granaries.

3. An eating ulcer.


1. A dog of a large breed, kept to guard sheep.

2. A dog supposed to be bred between a dog and a wolf.

WOLF-FISH, n. A fish, the lupus marinus, (the Anarrhichas lupus of Linne;) a fierce voracious fish of the northern seas.