persiflage

play
noun per·si·flage \ ˈpər-si-ˌfläzh , ˈper- \

Definition of persiflage

:frivolous bantering talk :light raillery

persiflage was our Word of the Day on 03/28/2015. Hear the podcast!

Examples of persiflage in a Sentence

  1. their tongue-in-cheek persiflage is sometimes mistaken for an exchange of insults by people who don't know them

Did You Know?

Unwanted persiflage on television might provoke an impatient audience to hiss or boo, but from an etymological standpoint, no other reaction could be more appropriate. English speakers picked up persiflage from French in the 18th century. Its ancestor is the French verb persifler, which means "to banter" and was formed from the prefix per-, meaning "thoroughly," plus siffler, meaning "to whistle, hiss, or boo." Siffler in turn derived from the Latin verb sibilare, meaning "to whistle or hiss." By the way, sibilare is also the source of sibilant, a word linguists use to describe sounds like those made by "s" and "sh" in sash. That Latin root also underlies the verb sibilate, meaning "to hiss" or "to pronounce with or utter an initial sibilant."

Origin and Etymology of persiflage

French, from persifler to banter, from per- thoroughly + siffler to whistle, hiss, boo, ultimately from Latin sibilare



Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to curse or denounce

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Merriam-Webster's New Words Quiz—Fall 2017 Edition!

  • young-plant-shoots
  • Which of the following is a new sense of the word bunny?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Citation

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!