per·​si·​flage | \ ˈpər-si-ˌfläzh How to pronounce persiflage (audio) , ˈper- How to pronounce persiflage (audio) \

Definition of persiflage

: frivolous bantering talk : light raillery

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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."

Examples of persiflage in a Sentence

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

First Known Use of persiflage

1757, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for persiflage

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

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The first known use of persiflage was in 1757

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Cite this Entry

“Persiflage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 May. 2022.

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