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ban·​ter ˈban-tər How to pronounce banter (audio)
bantered; bantering; banters

transitive verb

: to speak to or address in a witty and teasing manner
She laughed and bantered him a little, remembering too late that she should have been dignified and reserved.Kate Chopin
archaic : delude
chiefly Southern US and Midland US : challenge

intransitive verb

: to speak or act playfully or wittily
The two friends bantered with each other.
banterer noun
banteringly adverb


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: good-natured and usually witty and animated joking
listening to their lively banter

Did you know?

Can banter be vicious?

Banter refers to a form of jesting or to the act of exchanging joking repartee. Although the word once meant “ridicule,” and though it has a regional sense "a challenge or dare" (as in, "he performed a banter [or banner], jumping from the roof onto the snowbank"), in modern use it usually refers to a light-hearted form of wit. You would not be wrong to say that someone engages in “cruel banter,” if that is what is intended, but the word is far more often encountered in combination with modifiers such as witty, friendly, or lighthearted.

Examples of banter in a Sentence

Verb the teacher bantered pleasantly, albeit a bit awkwardly, with the students at the school dance Noun I enjoyed hearing their good-natured banter. members of the Algonquin Round Table were known for their brilliant and witty banter
Recent Examples on the Web
Farther down the mountain, two other friends the pair had spent the night bantering about were also dead. Heba Farouk Mahfouz, Washington Post, 10 Sep. 2023 Social media titans Elon Musk and Mark Zuckerberg, of X and Meta, respectively, bantered about meeting in a cage match. Patrik Jonsson, The Christian Science Monitor, 17 Aug. 2023 In person, Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida cuts a conventional figure of a presidential candidate, sticking to the script onstage, posing stiffly for selfies, and bantering about ice cream or listening politely as voters tell him about their recent trips to Florida. Jess Bidgood,, 18 July 2023 At their joint event on Thursday, Ms. Reynolds and Ms. DeSantis bantered onstage and even exchanged a high-five. Maggie Haberman, New York Times, 8 July 2023 During one of the shows for her Weekends With Adele Las Vegas residency, Adele took some time to banter with fans and get some answers to her burning questions about Vanderpump Rules. Kyle Denis, Billboard, 26 June 2023 Our social media manager banters with her dad on our public Facebook page. Karla L. Miller, Washington Post, 15 June 2023 But Licht was told that moving Lemon to the morning, where the ability to banter spontaneously is a must, was not a good solution, according to one former CNN executive who was not authorized to comment. Stephen Battaglio, Los Angeles Times, 5 June 2023 The string includes Chris Cuomo, with whom Lemon often bantered on-air during the crossover between their respective programs. Don Aucoin,, 25 Apr. 2023
The banter, the villain reveals and the Arrowverse of it all kept the show afloat for nine seasons. Los Angeles Times Staff, Los Angeles Times, 14 Sep. 2023 On Wednesday, frontman Simon Le Bon’s banter was as playful as his interplay with his bandmates, who sounded great, with John Taylor’s buoyant bass lines and Nick Rhodes’s stabs of keyboard leaping out of the speakers. Maura Johnston,, 7 Sep. 2023 Their banter about breakfast is light and juvenile, reinforcing Martin’s youth before his murder in 2012. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 6 Sep. 2023 The sports-loving couple enjoy a light-hearted rivalry and will savor swapping banter about their teams' respective successes at the games. Simon Perry, Peoplemag, 4 Sep. 2023 Thai funk undulates on the sound system, and a convivial banter hums, underscoring the restaurant’s unique conversation between East and West. Krista Simmons, Sunset Magazine, 25 Aug. 2023 Their message quickly devolved into sarcasm and banter as the country stars laughed through various false starts. Meghan Overdeep, Southern Living, 31 Aug. 2023 Like the rest of the show, the banter lends itself to half-listening. Time, 11 Aug. 2023 Avery Sunshine lifted everyone's spirits with heartwarming anthems and banter with her guitarist and husband, Dana Johnson. Joshua Medintz, The Enquirer, 23 July 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'banter.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



of obscure origin


noun derivative of banter entry 1

First Known Use


1653, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1660, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of banter was in 1653

Dictionary Entries Near banter

Cite this Entry

“Banter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 22 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
ban·​ter ˈbant-ər How to pronounce banter (audio)
: to speak in a friendly but teasing or witty way
banterer noun
banteringly adverb


2 of 2 noun
: good-natured teasing or joking

More from Merriam-Webster on banter

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