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 The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.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 witless in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)
From Middle English witles, from Old English witlēas (“senseless; witless”), from Proto-Germanic *witjalausaz (“witless”), equivalent to wit + -less. Cognate with Swedish vettlös (“senseless; witless; wild”), Icelandic vitlauss (“senseless; witless; foolish; mad”).
- Destitute of wit or understanding; wanting thought; hence, indiscreet; not under the guidance of judgment.
- This term is frequently found in phrases such as scared witless, witless with fear, and so on.