have (one's) wits about (one)

(redirected from they have their wits about them)

have (one's) wits about (one)

To stay calm and rational, especially in times of stress. Luckily, the teacher had her wits about her and was able to evacuate all of her students from the burning building.
See also: have, wit
Farlex Dictionary of Idioms. © 2022 Farlex, Inc, all rights reserved.

have one's wits about one

Also, keep one's wits about one. Remain alert or calm, especially in a crisis. For example, After the collision I had my wits about me and got his name and license number, or Being followed was terrifying, but Kate kept her wits about her and got home safely. [Early 1600s]
See also: have, one, wit
The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer. Copyright © 2003, 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

have your wits about you

If you have your wits about you, you are alert and ready to take action in a difficult or new situation. You've got to have your wits about you when you're driving a car. Note: You can also say that you keep your wits about you with the same meaning. Obviously divers need to keep their wits about them. Note: You can also say that you need your wits about you, meaning that it is important for you to behave in this way. You need your wits about you when you're dealing with people like this.
See also: have, wit
Collins COBUILD Idioms Dictionary, 3rd ed. © HarperCollins Publishers 2012

have (or keep) your wits about you

be constantly alert and vigilant.
See also: have, wit
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

have/keep your ˈwits about you

be/remain quick to think and act in a demanding, difficult or dangerous situation: Mountaineering is dangerous, so you need to keep your wits about you.
See also: have, keep, wit
Farlex Partner Idioms Dictionary © Farlex 2017

have one's wits about one, to

To be wide awake and alert. Wits in the plural has long meant keen mental faculties. Ben Jonson so used it in The Alchemist (1612): “They live by their wits.” About the same time, the expression of having one’s wits about one—in effect, ready to serve one—came into use. It appeared in James Mabbe’s 1622 translation of Guzman de Alfarache (“I had my wits about me”) and has been used ever since. To live by one’s wits, on the other hand, also implies managing by means of clever expediency rather than honest work.
See also: have, to, wit
The Dictionary of Clichés by Christine Ammer Copyright © 2013 by Christine Ammer
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