Abstract nouns denoting cognition have a complex semantic history. This work examines the processes of semantic change from a cognitive semantic point of view. The main focus falls on the problem of directionality: are the tendencies of unidirectionality and subjectification reported in grammaticalization also observable in semantic change in general? Do directional processes of change appear on different levels of semantic analysis? The discussion rests on prototype-semantic analyses of corpus data of the noun wit from Late Middle English to the present. Onomasiological questions and cultural change are also addressed.