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

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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
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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

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 Responses also included friendly banter about the actual photo of the duo. Jasmine Hyman And Brian Ries, CNN, "Tom Brady posts a legendary selfie with retired rival Peyton Manning," 28 June 2019 In the video Kunis has the magazine cover pulled up on her phone as the two jokingly banter back and forth about what went wrong. Abby Gardner, Glamour, "Mila Kunis and Ashton Kutcher Filmed the Funniest Response to Rumors They’re Breaking Up," 20 June 2019 During the brief banter portion with host Alex Trebek, Lucas was asked about his interest in learning Chinese. Johnny Diaz,, "Miami teen moves on to Jeopardy semifinals," 19 June 2019 One recent Saturday afternoon, the pair took a break and sat on stone steps in front of one of Florence’s formidable wooden doorways lit by the afternoon sun to unwind and banter about their craft. Claudia Kalb, National Geographic, "See where Leonardo da Vinci still walks the streets," 6 June 2019 But all this playful banter has us ready to see Justin hop back in the recording booth soon and maybe, just maybe, Shawn could join him. Allie Gemmill, Teen Vogue, "Justin Bieber Jokingly Challenged Shawn Mendes on His "Prince of Pop" Title," 8 Apr. 2019 Instead, Jane has some flirtatious banter with Corey, a co-worker at the local aquarium. Washington Post, "‘Big Little Lies’ isn’t as mysterious as it used to be. But we still have 7 unanswered questions.," 10 June 2019 The cases exposed a culture of back scratching and crude banter between traders carrying out customer orders and stained the reputations of some of the world’s largest banks. Margot Patrick, WSJ, "Major Banks Suspected of Collusion in Bond-Rigging Probe," 20 Dec. 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

17 Jul 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 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

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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

Comments on banter

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