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Mother-wit

Native wit, a ready reply; the wit which “our mother gave us.” In ancient authors the term is used to express a ready reply, courteous but not profound. Thus, when Louis XIV. expressed some anxiety lest Polignac should be inconvenienced by a shower of falling rain, the mother-wit of the cardinal replied, “It is nothing, I assure your Majesty; the rain of Marly never makes us wet.”

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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