ban·​ter | \ ˈban-tər \
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

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Other Words from banter


banterer \ ˈban-​tər-​ər \ noun
banteringly \ ˈban-​tə-​riŋ-​lē \ 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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 On a recent Friday afternoon, the crew at Station 31 bantered while eating lunch at the dining table. Sarah Wu, The Seattle Times, "Is Station 31 making Seattle firefighters sick? Study hopes to find answers about ‘Cancer House’," 6 July 2018 Shortly after 5pm, German recording artist NoMBe, also a client of Udell's, bantered with the crowd while the soundmen worked out a few kinks. Nicole Pajer, Billboard, "Winston House & 2332 Collective Make Sure West LA Music Scene Doesn't Fade Away," 2 July 2018 On the company's trading floor, men bantered about groping the Queen of England's genitals. Anchorage Daily News, "Pregnancy discrimination is rampant inside America’s biggest companies," 16 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Sitting Bull’s conversations with Catherine are a mix of cross-cultural banter and gradual, mutual understanding. Justin Chang,, "Jessica Chastain plays the artist who painted Sitting Bull in the inert history lesson 'Woman Walks Ahead'," 28 June 2018 However, the girlfriends' banter and comedic timing, specifically Bayer's, is more than worth watching. Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY, "Netflix's 'Ibiza' should do for Vanessa Bayer what 'Girls Trip' did for Tiffany Haddish," 25 May 2018 The story also allows for banter between Liv and Annalise, another formidable black woman who becomes a friend of sorts. Tanisha C. Ford, The Atlantic, "The Episode That Captured the Best and Worst of Scandal," 19 Apr. 2018 Comedian-actor-singer-writer Carol Burnett comes to Benaroya Hall Oct. 21, as part of a tour stop, for an evening of memories, video clips and banter with the audience. Tom Keogh, The Seattle Times, "Carol Burnett comes to Seattle to banter, answer questions — and possibly do the Tarzan yell," 9 Oct. 2018 The viewing party for the Brazil-Costa Rica game, hosted by Dantas, had all the necessities: Family, friends, food and plenty of banter. Glenn Graham,, "Brazil delivers World Cup victory as Blast players root for their home country," 22 June 2018 To workers flanked by the constant banter of their colleagues’ business dealings and personal dramas, the booths represent their best hope for any semblance of privacy. ... Sarah E. Needleman, WSJ, "The Best Spot in the Office Is a Phone Booth—If You Can Get Into One," 27 Nov. 2018 Visich, who did not respond to four requests for comment by email and phone, has described these emails as banter among friends. Ben Guarino, The Verge, "An academic reported sexual harassment. Her university allegedly retaliated," 12 Nov. 2018 As far as the couple's public banter on Twitter goes, gracing the cover of the hip-hop magazine’s latest issue was seemingly enough to get the rapper through security, even though the issue only listed his stage name. Fox News, "Rapper G-Eazy claims magazine cover got him through airport security," 2 Oct. 2018

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.

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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

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Statistics for banter

Last Updated

16 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for banter

The first known use of banter was in 1653

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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 \

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

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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

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