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[ Also see Argument Cleverness Conversation Dullness Eloquence Epigrams Humor Irony Jesting Jokes Language Levity Merriment Pun Repartee Ridicule Sarcasm Satire Smiles Speech Wisdom Witticisms ]

Their heads sometimes so little that there is no room for wit; sometimes so long, that there is no wit for so much room.
      - Thomas Fuller (1),
        The Holy and Profane States
         (bk. IV, ch. XII, Of Natural Fools, maxim I)

With little wit and ease to suit them,
  They whirl in narrow circling trails,
    Like kittens playing with their tails.
      [Ger., Mit wenig Witz und viel Behagen
        Dreht jeder sich im engen Zirkeltanz
          Wie junge Katzen mit dem Schwanz.]
      - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust
         (I, 5, 94)

Wit generally succeeds more from being happily addressed than from its native poignancy. A jest, calculated to spread at a gaming-table, may be received with, perfect indifference should it happen to drop in a mackerel-boat.
      - Oliver Goldsmith

As a wit, if not first, in the very first line.
      - Oliver Goldsmith, Retaliation (l. 96)

You may be witty, but not satirical.
      - Horace Greeley

By wit we search divine aspect above,
  By wit we learn what secrets science yields,
    By wit we speak, by wit the mind is rul'd,
      By wit we govern all our actions;
        Wit is the loadstar of each human thought,
          Wit is the tool by which all things are wrought.
      - Robert Greene

It is by such encounters that wits come to know each other.
  [Ger., Les beaux esprits lernen einander durch dergleichen recontre erkennen.]
      - Andreas Gryphius, Horribilicribfax
         (act IV, sc. 7)

You can pretend to be serious; you can't pretend to be witty.
      - Sacha Guitry

Truth, when witty, is the wittiest of all things.
      - A.W. Hare and J.C. Hare

Genuine and innocent wit is surely the very flavor of the mind.
      - Moses Harvey

Genuine wit implies no small amount of wisdom and culture.
      - Moses Harvey

There must be more malice than love in the hearts of all wits.
      - Benjamin Robert Haydon

Those who object to wit are envious of it.
      - William Hazlitt (1)

We prefer a person with vivacity and high spirits, though bordering upon insolence, to the timid and pusillanimous; we are fonder of wit joined to malice than of dullness without it.
      - William Hazlitt (1)

Wit is the rarest quality to be met with among people of education, and the most common among the uneducated.
      - William Hazlitt (1)

Wit is the salt of conversation, not the food.
      - William Hazlitt (1),
        Lectures on the English Comic Writers
         (lecture 1)

Wit's an unruly engine, wildly striking
  Sometimes a friend, sometimes the engineer:
    Hast thou the knack? pamper it not with liking;
      But if thou want it, buy it not too deare
        Many affecting wit beyond their power,
          Have got to be a deare fool for an houre.
      - George Herbert, Temple--Church Porch
         (st. 41)

At our wittes end.
      - John Heywood, Proverbs (pt. I, ch. VIII)

Wit throws a single ray, separated from the rest,--red, yellow, blue, or any intermediate shade,--upon an object; never white light; that is the province of wisdom. We get beautiful effect from wit,--all the prismatic colors,--but never the object as it is in fair daylight.
      - Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Wit, without wisdom, is salt without meat; and that is but a comfortless dish to set a hungry man down to.
      - Thomas Hartwell Horne

It is a certain rule that wit and passion are entirely incompatible. When the affections are moved, there is no place for the imagination.
      - David Hume

For the qualities of sheer wit and humor, Swift had no superior, ancient or modern.
      - Leigh Hunt (James Henry Leigh Hunt)

Wit is the clash and reconcilement of incongruities; the meeting of extremes round a corner.
      - Leigh Hunt (James Henry Leigh Hunt),
        Wit and Humour

That which we call wit consists much in quickness and tricks, and is so full of lightness that it seldom goes with judgment and solidity; but when they do meet, it is commonly in an honest man.
      - James I of England (James VI of Scotland)

Wits, like drunken men with swords, are apt to draw their steel upon their best acquaintances.
      - Douglas William Jerrold

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