Pat, Erk wyterly; WA witirely
'clearly, surely; truly' (Modern English )
Proposed ON Etymon (OIcel representative)
vitr (adj.) ‘wise’, cp. vitrliga (adv.) ‘wisely, with wisdom’
(ONP vitr (adj.), cp. vitrliga (adv.))
Other Scandinavian Reflexes
Far vitur, Ice vitur, ODan witær, OSw viter, Sw vitter
cp. witran (v.) 'verare, to speak the truth'; wita (n.) ‘wise man’, witan (v.) ‘to know’
Phonological and morphological markers
The adj. is first attested in late OE (see Hofmann §386, Peters 98, SPS); it is attested in the SWM in early ME (LB, AW), but in the later period it is mainly N/EM. The adv. is relatively widespread in early ME, though thereafter esp. frequent in alliterative texts (inc. PP).
Occurrences in the Gersum Corpus
Gaw 1706; Cl 171, 1567; Pat 330; Erk 183; WA 422
The beginning of this word is difficult to make out at in the MS at Gaw 1706, but it is read thus by all editors (and see Knott 1915: 103, who regards the <w> as clear from the offset). The GDS translation ‘skilfully’ is probably the source of MED’s treatment of the word under its sense 1 ‘knowingly, skilfully, cleverly’ (which it notes is ‘sometimes difficult to distinguish from sense 2.(b)’, i.e. ‘truly, undoubtedly, certainly, indeed’); but TGD ‘clearly’ accords better with MED’s sense 2(a), ‘plainly, evidently, manifestly (etc.)'. While the line may be plausibly interpreted either way, most editors agree with TGD (thus e.g. Vantuono Burrow, AW, Barron, PS). Madden (‘eagerly? fiercely?’) and Morris (‘savagely, fiercely’ were evidently unsure what to make of this word.
Skeat WA prints witrely at WA 422.