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live on your wits | live by your wits

Meaning: If you live on your wits, or live by your wits, you don't have a regular job but you survive by cleverly manipulating people or situations.

For example:

  • These homeless kids have to learn how to live on their wits, and a lot of them are very smart.

  • Kyle is a very good businessman, but he never went to university. He says he learned most of his business skills when he was young and still living by his wits.

Quick Quiz:

Jamal had to learn to live on his wits because
  1. he wasn't very smart
  2. he didn't have the chance to get a normal job
  3. he was too lazy to work

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