"foolish, stupid and ineffectual person," 1934, British slang, popular 1950s-60s, crossed over to U.S. with British sitcoms. It probably developed from twit (v.) in the sense of "reproach," but it may be influenced by nitwit.
"to blame, reproach, taunt, upbraid," 1520s, twite, shortened form of Middle English atwite, from Old English ætwitan "to blame, reproach," from æt "at" (see at) + witan "to blame," from Proto-Germanic *witanan "to look after, guard, ascribe to, reproach" (source also of Old English wite, Old Saxon witi, Old Norse viti "punishment, torture;" Old High German wizzi "punishment," wizan "to punish;" Dutch verwijten, Old High German firwizan, German verweisen "to reproach, reprove," Gothic fraweitan "to avenge"), from PIE root *weid- "to see." For sense evolution, compare Latin animadvertere, literally "to give heed to, observe," later "to chastise, censure, punish." Related: Twitted; twitting. As a noun meaning "a taunt" from 1520s.
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