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Old English witena ġemōt, literally "assembly of the wise". See gemote.


  • IPA(key): /ˈwɪtənəjəməʊt/


witenagemot ‎(plural witenagemots)

  1. (historical, usually uncountable, sometimes countable) Any of several assemblies which existed in Anglo-Saxon England from the 7th to the 11th century, initially with regional jurisdiction (there being different ones in Essex, Kent, Mercia, Northumbria, Sussex and Wessex), later with national jurisdiction, made up of important noblemen.
    • 1851, John Lingard, The Antiquities of the Anglo-Saxon Church, J Murphy, page 102:
      To this study was necessarily added that of the ecclesiastical canons; and the knowledge of each must have given the clergy a great superiority, both as legislators in the witenagemot, and as magistrates in the different courts, at which it was their duty to attend.
  2. (historical, countable) A specific session of such an assembly.

Usage notes[edit]

  • The spelling (and capitalization) of this word has historically been quite variable. Since 1850, witenagemot has been the most common form; historically, the most common form was wittenagemot, followed by wittenagemote, wittena-gemote and wittena-gemot, but all of those forms became uncommon (compared to their former commonness and to witenagemot) after 1900.
  • In the past, assemblies other than and more modern/contemporaneous than the old Anglo-Saxon ones were on rare occasion described using this word. That practice ceased before 1900. See wittena-gemote for more.