At Your Wit's End

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Meaning of Idiom 'At Your (or one's) Wit's End'

To be at your wit's end means that you are so confused, puzzled, or upset or have encountered so many difficulties that you have no idea what to do. 2,1,3

Compare At the End of Your Rope.


"I really need your help. I've been trying to figure out how to solve this problem and I'm at my wit's end."

"He was a good detective, but this case had him at his wit's end."


The word wit, in this idiom, means "mental ability or sharpness." It appeared as early as 1377 in Pliers Ploughman by William Langland 1:

"Immediately I awoke, almost at my wits' end. And when I set out on my way, it was like a man under a sentence of death."

1. Ammer, Christine. American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013.
2. Ayto, John. Oxford Dictionary of English Idioms. Oxford: Oxford U, 2010.
3. Heacock, Paul. Cambridge Dictionary of American Idioms. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2010.

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