live by/on (one's) wits

(redirected from living by their wits)

live by/on (one's) wits

To survive or make a living through one's intellect and resourcefulness. When I lost everything, I had to live by my wits, and it made me a stronger, more savvy person.
See also: by, live, on, wit

live by one's wits

Fig. to survive by being clever. When you're in the kind of business I'm in, you have to live by your wits. John was orphaned at the age of ten and grew up living by his wits.
See also: by, live, wit

live by one's wits

Manage by clever expedience rather than hard work or wealth. For example, Alan's never held a steady job but manages to live by his wits. This expression uses wits in the sense of "keen mental faculties." [c. 1600]
See also: by, live, wit

live by your wits

earn money by clever and sometimes dishonest means, having no regular occupation.
See also: by, live, wit

live by/on your ˈwits

earn money by clever or sometimes dishonest means: Patrick did not go to college, as expected, but learned to live very successfully on his wits.
See also: by, live, on, wit
References in periodicals archive ?
Translator Frye presents a comprehensive introduction to two short comic novels written in sixteenth and seventeenth century Spain about young men of low social class living by their wits in Castile, a region mostly peopled by peasant farmers with the largest city Toledo.
The industry of Doyce, who himself confesses to a prejudice "against speculation" (Dickens [1857] 1985, 736), is a far cry from that of the speculators who, like Clennam himself and Pancks, pin all on dubious get-rich quick formulas in emulation of the Merdles of this world who attain the lifestyle and kudos of the idle rich through swindling and fraud, living by their wits like card-sharpers at "play-tables," as Gowan suspects Blandois/Rigaud of doing ([1857] 1985, 542); and if the wit of Merdle, Gowan and Blandois/Rigaud is Vesalius' ingenio in an utterly debased form, Doyce's ingenuity is one aspect of that same faculty transformed in the alembic of history into engineering inventiveness.
In many ways, Auron's story is similar to those of humans facing adversity and living by their wits.
Living by their wits, they are the ultimate risk-takers.
Tham's people move quickly, living by their wits in a region so connected to the world that a national language would get in the way.
With gambling rooms come crooks and other men living by their wits, who are undesirable citizens.
Perhaps the best of his novels, The Lonely Londoners (1956) describes apparently naive immigrants living by their wits in a hostile city.
Here in Manitoba it seems plenty of people are willing to take the risk of living by their wits, and prepared for hard work.