mother wit

mother wit (uncountable)

  1. Inborn intelligence; innate good sense. [from 15th c.]
    • c. 1591, William Shakespeare, Taming of the Shrew, First Folio 1621, act 2, scene 1:
      Kate. Where did you study all this goodly speech?
      Petr. It is extempore, from my mother wit.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, IV.10:
      For all that nature by her mother-wit
      Could frame in earth, and forme of substance base,
      Was there […].
    • 1820 March, [Walter Scott], chapter X, in The Monastery. A Romance. [...] In Three Volumes, volume III, Edinburgh: Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, Orme, and Brown, […]; and for Archibald Constable and Co., and John Ballantyne, […], OCLC 892089409 ↗, page 244 ↗:
      His mother-wit taught him that he must not, in such uncertain times, be too hasty in asking information of any one, [...]
    • 1830, James Fenimore Cooper, The Headsman, chapter 28:
      The buffoon, though accustomed to deception and frauds, had sufficient mother-wit to comprehend the critical position in which he was now placed.
    • 1959 Dec. 21, "[,9171,865179,00.html FICTION: The Year's Best]," Time (retrieved 4 April 2011):
      Russian author Panova, writing with unostentatious excellence, has both the compassion and the mother wit to describe the world of a six-year-old—and to recall an existence that most grownups have forgotten.
    • 2007 April 15, Terrence Rafferty, "Film: A Gumshoe Adrift, Lost in the 70's ↗," New York Times (retrieved 4 April 2011):
      [T]he classic private eye could operate effectively and get to the bottom of things with nothing more than nerve, mother wit and local knowledge.

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