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

Definition of banter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : 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
2 archaic : delude
3 chiefly Southern US and Midland US : challenge

intransitive verb

: to speak or act playfully or wittily The two friends bantered with each other.



Definition of banter (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Other Words from banter


banterer \ ˈban-​tər-​ər How to pronounce banter (audio) \ noun
banteringly \ ˈban-​tə-​riŋ-​lē How to pronounce banter (audio) \ adverb

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: Verb The decision came just after Jackson Reffitt's political disagreements and banter over text with his father escalated after the election in 2020. Katelyn Polantz, CNN, 3 Mar. 2022 Team building can happen anywhere your team can interact with one another and banter about anything other than work. James Mayo, Rolling Stone, 1 Mar. 2022 The four cutters — three men and one woman — banter with one another and their clients, talking on topics ranging from the advisability of keeping a land line telephone to why some people remain unvaccinated. Richard A. Marini, San Antonio Express-News, 24 Jan. 2022 During the stage banter between sets, BTS mostly stuck to English. Rebecca Sun, The Hollywood Reporter, 29 Dec. 2021 As the episode ends, Clint and Kate banter about Kate's codename. Chancellor Agard,, 22 Dec. 2021 The episode also provides another nice showcase for fun back-and-forth between Clint and Kate, who banter their way through the escape and subsequent chase then struggle to communicate when Clint loses his hearing aid. Keith Phipps, Vulture, 1 Dec. 2021 The two men banter about the impact that John Ford, Woody Guthrie, and news coverage of the moon landing had on even their most personal life decisions. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 26 Oct. 2021 People in the group, who often banter about shoreline access issues but are most certainly in favor of more of it, reacted with fury; one posted Marsh’s LinkedIn profile, Marsh’s lawsuit said., 25 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Gaz’s in-between songs banter was natural and winning. Lily Moayeri, Variety, 14 May 2022 Beckett’s bitterly comic banter remains, but Kurtág’s version is filled with compassion for these characters mired in exhaustion, desolation and especially old age. Heidi Waleson, WSJ, 12 May 2022 While Adrian Galindo mixes drinks behind the bar with equal parts flair and banter, Roberto Centeno works the grill, throwing corn right onto the hot coals. Sunset Magazine, 11 May 2022 For seven years anyone with a Netflix password could spend hours watching two of Hollywood’s most brilliant performers nail first-class comedic banter and soul-raking revelations. Los Angeles Times, 5 May 2022 There’s betrayal, enraptured Martin Scorsese directing, and enough banter between Newman and Cruise to make this a must-see classic, gambling or not. Keith Nelson, Men's Health, 30 Apr. 2022 Between some playful banter and debates over ingredients, the duo ended up nailing the recipe, and later enjoyed their snack while riding around in the car. Gil Kaufman, Billboard, 26 Apr. 2022 Investing in silly meme coins puts the investor at the whims of Musk, or of Discord, Reddit and WeChat banter. Kenneth Rapoza, Forbes, 24 Apr. 2022 Exhibiting more weary nobility, Domińczyk and Harvey have some of the show’s best banter and little notes of humor that otherwise feel lacking in certain spots. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 Apr. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'banter.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of banter


1653, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1660, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for banter


of obscure origin


noun derivative of banter entry 1

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Cite this Entry

“Banter.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for banter


ban·​ter | \ ˈban-tər How to pronounce banter (audio) \

Kids Definition of banter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: good-natured teasing and joking


bantered; bantering

Kids Definition of banter (Entry 2 of 2)

: to tease or joke with in a friendly way

More from Merriam-Webster on banter

Nglish: Translation of banter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of banter for Arabic Speakers


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