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Etymology 1[edit]

From Middle English biwitten, biwiten, biwitien, from Old English bewitan, bewītan, bewitian (to look over, watch over, take charge of, have charge or direction of, superintend, preside, govern, administer), equivalent to be- +‎ wit.


bewit (third-person singular simple present bewits, present participle bewitting, simple past and past participle bewist or bewitted)

  1. (transitive) To bequeath.
    • 1527, 1902, James Raine, John William Clay, Testamenta eboracensia:
      Al my other goodes afore not bewitted, my dettes paide, and my legacy fulfilled, I gyve and witto to my sones Roberte Bulmer and John Bulmer, whome I make my executors.
    • 1529, 1887, The Publications of the Surtees Society - Volume 83 - Page 302:
      I bewit to everye preiste at Saincte Egidie chapell viij d., beside dutyes of churche, to saye Mimrere Pmlvie and De Profundit for my saule.
    • 1953, Philip Lindsay, The secret of Henry the Eighth:
      "[...] as Queen Anne espied, who was then thought to be with child, she for anger and disdain miscarried, as she said, bewitting the king with it, who willed her to pardon him, and he would not displease her in that kind thereafter".
  2. (transitive) To endue or impart wit (to); instruct.
    • 1871, Henry Scale English, Crowland and Burgh:
      Several passages in the chronicles show that Elfric was tender of the queen's good name: perhaps it was the queen rather than the king who, acting on the advice of Elfwinus, wished the princes bewitted, that is to say, accomplished; made men of the world, and as we should say, their manner improved: [...]
    • 2006, William Hope Hodgson, The Night Land:
      Yet I jeered not at the Voice, to show contempt of its failing to bewit me; but let the matter bide; [...]
    • 2009, Stephen R. Lawhead, Merlin:
      Her face illumined by the fireglow, I had a moment to assess this beauty that had so bewitted Uther.

Etymology 2[edit]

From Middle English bewette, diminutive of Old French beue, bue, buie, boie (bond, chain), from Latin boia (neck collar, fetter). Compare buoy.

Alternative forms[edit]


bewit (plural bewits)

  1. A double slip of leather by which bells are fastened to a hawk's legs.
Usage notes[edit]
  • Usually used in the plural form bewits.

Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for bewit in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)