banter

verb
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.

banter

noun

Definition of banter (Entry 2 of 2)

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from banter

Verb

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

Can banter be vicious?

Noun

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Trump and Nicklaus III bantered about golf and his grandfather Jack Nicklaus, with his Muirfield Village Golf Club in Dublin, home to the Memorial Tournament, mentioned a couple of times, including as host of the Presidents Cup in 2013. Randy Ludlow, Cincinnati.com, "Ohio couple, Nicklaus grandson attended Trump dinner in secret recording," 27 Jan. 2020 The general manager, Chris Colvin, knew many of his employees’ names and bantered with them amiably. Noam Scheiber, New York Times, "Inside an Amazon Warehouse, Robots’ Ways Rub Off on Humans," 3 July 2019 Letter revels in bantering with the judges and is at ease in nerve-racking court sessions of hypothetical, rapid-fire questioning, said Matt Collette, who was Letter’s deputy at the Justice Department. Washington Post, "In court, he speaks for Speaker Nancy Pelosi," 25 Dec. 2019 Spurs are two points ahead of United in the table at this point, even after getting bantered off by a young Irish lad scoring twice against them on his first Premier League start for Brighton at the weekend. SI.com, "Manchester United: Who Is to Blame? II," 9 Oct. 2019 Along the way, Meirelles seemingly humanizes the typically stoic religious figures, showing them bantering over herbs in the back of a helicopter and sharing pizza at the Vatican between heated arguments over the future of the church’s leadership. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, "Anthony Hopkins lights papal feud ablaze in gripping Two Popes trailer," 5 Nov. 2019 At some point, costumed performers appeared onstage and started bantering. Lizzie Widdicombe, The New Yorker, "The Mysteries of “Baby Shark”," 21 Nov. 2019 Bethel, in his best post-Hart-of-Dixie usage, banters well with Missick and has some dynamic courtroom moments. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Bluff City Law' and 'All Rise': TV Reviews," 23 Sep. 2019 Dylan was also seen working on music with Johnny Cash, and, looking and sounding strung out, bantering nonsensically with John Lennon in the back of a car in London. Hillel Italie, BostonGlobe.com, "Oscar-winning documentary maker D.A. Pennebaker dies at 94," 3 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun With their clashing allegiances, the two don’t engage in much basketball banter online. Nicole Yang, BostonGlobe.com, "Brad Stevens has a direct connection to M. Night Shyamalan," 31 Jan. 2020 Hunter’s Timon tends more toward rough playfulness, interacting with the audience in the front rows with some edgy but not too disquieting banter, and getting laughs by inveigling the unctuous Painter into eating worms. Geoffrey O’brien, The New York Review of Books, "A Timon for Our Time," 29 Jan. 2020 That means lots of explosions, lots of comedic banter and more explosions from directors Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah as well as writers Chris Bremner, Peter Craig and Joe Carnahan. Chris Thilk, The Hollywood Reporter, "Sony Aims to Spark 'Bad Boys' Revival With Sequel Marketing," 17 Jan. 2020 Durst kept a fairly low profile, but Sawa endeared himself to Alabama folks on social media, engaging in banter, answering questions and praising the state via Twitter. Mary Colurso | Mcolurso@al.com, al, "Movie filmed in Birmingham is worst of the year?," 11 Dec. 2019 Feel free to follow along with the action or join in the banter with our readers. Joey Yashinsky, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football score vs. Notre Dame: Live blog updates," 26 Oct. 2019 Perhaps a studio show will cursorily address it in some pregame/postgame banter. Tom Hoffarth, Los Angeles Times, "LeBron James and China isn’t a topic game broadcasters are eager to discuss," 20 Oct. 2019 In my dreams, each conversation would be relaxed yet informative, full of banter and wild ideas. Quanta Magazine, "Why I’m Hosting The Joy of x Podcast," 15 Jan. 2020 Maybe the girl should learn the art of self-deprecating banter or rephrase her paranoia as a rap. Kyle Smith, National Review, "Greta Thunberg Is a Joke," 8 Jan. 2020

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.

See More

First Known Use of banter

Verb

1653, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Noun

1688, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for banter

Verb

of obscure origin

Noun

noun derivative of banter entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about banter

Time Traveler for banter

Time Traveler

The first known use of banter was in 1653

See more words from the same year

Statistics for banter

Last Updated

13 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Banter.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/banter. Accessed 18 Feb. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for banter

banter

noun

English Language Learners Definition of banter

: talk in which people make jokes about each other in a friendly way

banter

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

Kids Definition of banter

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: good-natured teasing and joking

banter

verb
bantered; bantering

Kids Definition of banter (Entry 2 of 2)

: to tease or joke with in a friendly way

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on banter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for banter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with banter

Spanish Central: Translation of banter

Nglish: Translation of banter for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of banter for Arabic Speakers

Comments on banter

What made you want to look up banter? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

More Confusing Words—Quiz

  • cats on impossible timber
  • The magician ______ moved the selected card to the top of the deck.
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!