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I am interested in early versions of English, and while reading I've often encountered the word wottest being used. For example:

Then he said, "Galahad, son, wottest thou what I hold between my hands?"
"Nay," said Sir Galahad, "but if ye tell me."
"This is," said he, "the holy dish wherein I eat the lamb on Shrove-Thursday... Malory's History of King Arthur and the Quest of the Holy Grail, Sir Thomas Mallory

Etymology Online has no entry for "wottest".

My questions are these: What does it mean? When do we use it (if it is still used today)?

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    It is the second person singular present form of wit (to know): "Wottest thou not what to do?" - "Do you not know what to do?"
    – Mick
    Nov 24, 2016 at 22:07
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    @Mick That'a impressive. How about an answer to that effect? Nov 24, 2016 at 22:15
  • @RichardKayser It's finding supporting information. I'm trying to find references for the tenses and persons.
    – Mick
    Nov 24, 2016 at 22:17
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    Is this not just Googleable? Nov 24, 2016 at 22:30
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    Wottest is Early Modern English. Old English had wast there. This smells like General Reference to me.
    – tchrist
    Nov 24, 2016 at 22:34

1 Answer 1

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It is the second person singular present form of wit (to know): "Wottest thou not what to do?" - "Do you not know what to do?"

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  • That's interesting (and obviously correct), but how does one go from wit to wottest? Nov 24, 2016 at 23:06
  • I will try to flesh this answer out with more info as and when I can find it. Should we turn it into a Wiki and move it to meta?
    – Mick
    Nov 24, 2016 at 23:06
  • I don't think so. Nov 24, 2016 at 23:06
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    @BoldBen - My question was not exactly that, but that's interesting, so thanks. I was more wondering why to wit was not, I wit, you wit, thou wittest... etc.. Nov 25, 2016 at 0:25
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    @BoldBen No, it is not "he/she/it wotteth" my goodness! Wot is the third-personal singular indicative of to wit.
    – tchrist
    Nov 25, 2016 at 3:50

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