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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from banter


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?


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


the teacher bantered pleasantly, albeit a bit awkwardly, with the students at the school dance


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

Hong seemed to know most of the other folks seated at the counter, bantering with some bros from the upstairs co-working space while seemingly simultaneously handling the rice, slicing the day’s fish, and ringing up to-go bento-box orders. Julia Kramer, Bon Appétit, "This 8-Seat Hand Roll Counter in Seattle Is My Lunchtime Happy Place," 9 July 2019 After the game, Lowry and Leonard sat down for an interview with ESPN’s Rachel Nichols, and Nichols later posted a video of the pair bantering before the formal conversation began. Louisa Thomas, The New Yorker, "The Raptors’ Joyous N.B.A. Finals Victory Brings the Warriors Dynasty to an End," 14 June 2019 The two would often banter back and forth about the issues of the day. Riley Murdock, azcentral, "Former state lawmaker Doug Todd, who paved the way for Arizona freeways, has died," 5 June 2019 First came Amy Schumer’s use of the C-word while bantering with Jennifer Lawrence. Vogue, "The Most Shocking Golden Globe Moments of All Time," 3 Jan. 2019 Stuart and his band showcased its country tunes while bantering with audience. Ed Condran,, "Hall & Oates' Hoagie Nation returns to Festival Pier for its second year," 27 May 2018 From across the red police tape, the young patrol officer in the street bantered with a group of mostly teenage boys and two girls in the park. Hannah Leone,, "After Gage Park shooting, 'You're just a little young to be out here'," 24 June 2018 Both are constantly bouncing jokes off each other and bantering away the long hours. Longreads, "Tennis vs. Tennis," 13 July 2018 Your professor holds forth in class, lecturing, orating, gesturing, bantering — equal parts pedagogue and performer. Alfred Lubrano,, "After complaints, does away with its 'hotness' ratings," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The second was to tour with comedians as openers, who remained on stage to provide the banter that the headliners felt too awkward to provide for themselves. Marc Hirsh,, "Aimee Mann’s voice does the talking in Beverly show," 13 July 2019 Soubrier is from France, a tie that created lighthearted banter among in-laws. Steven Goff,, "At left back, Crystal Dunn is getting it right for USWNT at World Cup," 4 July 2019 Barenaked Ladies more than made up for the onstage banter that was missing from the headlining act during the opening set. Jason Keil, azcentral, "Lots of smiles at reunited Hootie & the Blowfish concert — both onstage and off," 20 June 2019 Dylan checked it out and enjoyed the banter, but again, thought the meme would be forgotten soon enough. Andy Greder, Twin Cities, "How Minnesota United fans fueled a meme that became the ‘Dylan Wolpers Derby’," 17 June 2019 But the banter eventually becomes stifling, as claustrophobic and oppressive as Centerville itself. Ann Hornaday,, "'The Dead Don't Die' review: Jim Jarmusch's zombie tale lumbers along," 13 June 2019 From the beginning, Hemsworth and Thompson have an amiable, low-intensity dynamic that keeps the banter from being particularly sharp or witty, and that makes the stakes feel low no matter how the plotline shifts. Tasha Robinson, The Verge, "Men In Black: International is safe, bland, utterly sincere fun," 12 June 2019 At the after-party following the screening at Lincoln Ristorante, the usual cocktail banter was intermixed with guests discussing Willingham’s case and the corrupt state of the criminal justice system. Keaton Bell, Vogue, "Laura Dern Ignites at the Premiere of Trial by Fire," 15 May 2019 His sexist wisecracks, wise-guy sneers, and salesman’s banter are as colorful as his assaultive obscenities. Troy Patterson, The New Yorker, "“The Loudest Voice” Eviscerates Roger Ailes and Fox News," 30 June 2019

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


1653, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1


1688, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for banter


of obscure origin


noun derivative of banter entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about banter

Dictionary Entries near banter








Statistics for banter

Last Updated

17 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for banter

The first known use of banter was in 1653

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for banter



English Language Learners Definition of banter

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


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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on banter

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with banter

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for 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).


to form ideas or theories about something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

Bee Cubed

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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