nit » knit

Chiefly in:   knit-pick , pick knits , knitwit

Variant(s):  knitpick

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • Well, it has come to pass that This argument is simply the domain of logicians and those who have no better time than to knit-pick. (link)
  • This treatment was unfair. He loved to knitpick about their cruelty, as his peers made it quite known he was full of craft. (link)
  • I do have one little knitpick regarding Ronon; I really wish Jason would pay more attention to his diction. (link)
  • Sorry to pick knits here but the “C” in 700c is not for centimeters but was originally used to denote the width. (link)
  • I don’t want to look like knitpicking on words but there is a difference between … Again this could be me knitpicking on words. (link)
  • Uhh, no. You’re a knitwit if you actually think anyone thinks like that. Or a real brainwashed feminist, one of the two. (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Jess Anderson (Usenet newsgroup soc.motss, 10 September 2005)

Anderson supplied the first cite above (which also has the wonderful “have no better time than to VP”, presumably some kind of syntactic blend).

Even if you’re familiar with the word “nit” ‘egg or young of a louse’, you might well not realize that it participates in the idiom family “pick nits” , “nit(-)pick”, “nitpicking”. On the other hand, knitting requires meticulous attention to detail, plus occasionally picking apart previous work to fix errors, so the reinterpretation of “nit” as “knit” in expressions referring to concern with insignificant details is entirely natural. A web Google search produces thousands of examples.

[Edit, CW, 2005/10/14: Added _knitwit_. The occurrences are puns most of the time, such as in several knitting- and crafts-related trademarks; but some are genuine.]

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/09/10 |

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