Word of the Day


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Liz Potter
Written by Liz Potter


a stupid or silly person

View the full definition in the Macmillan Dictionary

Origin and usage

The noun twit may be derived from the verb, which means to tease, or it may be an alteration of similar words meaning ‘stupid person’ such as ‘tit’. It was first used with the current meaning in the first half of the 20th century.


Last Sunday was Roald Dahl day, an annual celebration of the children’s author, short story writer, autobiographer, screenwriter and poet. This post is named in honour of two of his most repulsive characters, Mr and Mrs Twit, part of a rogues’ gallery of awful bullying adults against whom his child characters do battle, (almost) always coming off best. In addition to creating memorable grotesques, Dahl relished linguistic creativity; like Lewis Carroll he delighted in creating new words and playing around with old ones, to spectacular effect. The BFG (short for the Big Friendly Giant) is especially rich in these, as the book’s eponymous  hero muddles his way through both the human world and human language. The only Dahl coinage that I can find in Macmillan Dictionary is  scrumdiddlyumptious (added to the Open Dictionary in 2015); perhaps it’s time to add some more.


Mr. Twit was a twit. He was born a twit. And, now at the age of sixty, he was a bigger twit than ever.”
(Roald Dahl, The Twits)

Meanings is not important, said the BFG. I cannot be right all the time. Quite often I is left instead of right.
(Roald Dahl, The BFG)

Related words

clot, nit, nitwit, twerp

Browse related words in the Macmillan Thesaurus.

About the author

Liz Potter

Liz Potter

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