The Projector

Amusements & Useful Devices from K. A. Wisniewski

What a Twit!

twit, n.1


Brit. /twɪt/
U.S. /twɪt/
Forms:  Also 15 twyte.
Frequency (in current use):
Etymology: < twit v.


a.  An act of twitting; a (light) censure or reproach; a taunt.

1528    in J. Strype Eccl. Mem. (1721) I. App. xvii. 38   Which bookes the sayd Frear dyd litle regard, and made a twyte of it.
1664    G. Etherege Comical Revenge v. v. 89   Upon condition that there be no twits of the good man Departed.
1847    L. Hunt Men, Women, & Bks. II. x. 224   An occasional twit at him for disappointing her.

b.  dial.

1825    R. Forby Vocab. E. Anglia (1830) Twit, a fit of hasty ill-humour; snappishness.


a.  A person given to twitting; dial. a tale-bearer.

1720    in T. D’Urfey Wit & Mirth VI. 241 A silly, peevish Twit.
1896    G. F. Northall Warwickshire Word-bk. (at cited word) ‘You are a twit’.

b.  A fool; a stupid or ineffectual person. slang.

1934    E. Linklater Magnus Merriman xvi. 178 He was…a false hero who flaunted himself in fine colours when he was drunk and dwindled to a shabby twit when sober.
1960    F. Raphael Limits of Love i. iii. 34 Don’t be a twit, Sid.
1964    Spectator 10 Apr. 493/1 By making his psychologists a dim bunch of twits he weakens his statements.
1970    N. Fleming Czech Point i. 20 No one but a prize twit or Captain Oates would have ventured out in this weather.
1977    C. McCullough Thorn Birds xviii. 467 There’s no need to get so worked up about it, you twit.
1984    Observer 4 Mar. 7/7 I hear and read such phrases as ‘geriatric old twit’: an expression which would hardly have sprung to the lips of the pious Aeneas.


Last week I was consulting with students on their final projects–videos, multimodal compositions, and websites… Although in these sorts of classes, I like students to play, experiment and problem-solve for themselves, one question on memes, gifs, and animation kept circling around our group discussions.

I like to carefully plan tutorials and workshops as best I can, but there is always an element of the unexpected, forcing improvisational moments as “how-to” guides and models.  The “Twit” above is an example from a recent session.  Students asked how to make their own gif (and some worried about how time-consuming this one element might be).

Since we were talking about Greg Ulmer’s concept of the popcycle, I quickly pulled out a pencil and sketched out the following . . . bridging together my “domains” of teaching, social media, humor, and book history / OED etymological research.  Before the session’s end, with a little work in Photoshop, the image of The Twit emerged.  Not any old twit . . . the twit.  The classroom setting is much like the GIF and Internet communities . . . a sense of humor is built into the interface!


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