from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The egg or young of a parasitic insect, such as a louse.
  • n. A unit of illuminative brightness equal to one candle per square meter, measured perpendicular to the rays of the source.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. The egg of a louse.
  • n. A young louse.
  • n. A fool, a nitwit.
  • n. A nitpicker
  • n. A candela per square meter.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The egg of a louse or other small insect.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • No; not; not at all.
  • n. The egg of a louse or some similar insect.
  • n. A small spot, speck, or protuberance.
  • n. In mining. See knit, 3.
  • n. A small insect; a gnat or fly: applied contemptuously to persons.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a luminance unit equal to 1 candle per square meter measured perpendicular to the rays from the source
  • n. egg or young of an insect parasitic on mammals especially a sucking louse; often attached to a hair or item of clothing


Middle English, from Old English hnitu.
From Latin nitor, brightness, from nitēre, to shine.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Middle English nite, from Old English hnitu, from Proto-Germanic *hnitō (cf. Dutch neet, German Nisse, Norwegian nit), from Proto-Indo-European *ḱ(o)nid- (cf. Scottish Gaelic sneadh, Lithuanian glìnda, Polish gnida, Albanian thëri, Ancient Greek κονίς (konís)) (Wiktionary)
Latin nitere ("to shine") (Wiktionary)


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  • it was Vulturo--whose name just came back to me--and I like to think he means far worse than 'nitwit'

    November 25, 2009

  • How do we know the Birdman's usage isn't just apocope of nitwit, of itself probably with no lousy pedigree?

    November 25, 2009

  • "I was in Zurich last week, you nit!"
    -Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law

    It's a pity this corollary to the "louse" insult didn't come in til the 21st century. I, for one, plan to use it at the earliest opportunity.

    November 25, 2009

  • Tin in reverse.

    November 2, 2007