rail·​lery | \ ˈrā-lə-rē How to pronounce raillery (audio) \
plural railleries

Definition of raillery

1 : good-natured ridicule : banter
2 : jest

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Raillery is the anglicized form of the French word raillerie, which stems from the Middle French verb railler, meaning "to mock." Railler, which probably comes from Old French reillier ("to growl" or "to mutter") and ultimately from Late Latin ragere ("to neigh"), also gave us our verb rail. But rail and raillery are quite different in tone. Rail means "to revile or scold in harsh, insolent, or abusive language," whereas raillery usually suggests cutting wit that pokes fun good-naturedly.

Examples of raillery in a Sentence

Luke had to put up with a lot of raillery from his sister the first time he asked a girl for a date.
Recent Examples on the Web With time, their caustic raillery transforms into sincere attachment. Charlie Tyson, The Atlantic, 13 May 2021 French’s evocation of place, a rural way of life and overall creepiness are superb, as is the dialogue, a festival of Irish raillery and repartee. Washington Post, 14 Oct. 2020 Some may feel, in this Trumpus Caesar summer, that such raillery, let alone the underlying idea of trying to understand why Americans have shot presidents, is an untoward or trite provocation. Jesse Green, New York Times, 13 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'raillery.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of raillery

1643, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for raillery

French raillerie, from Middle French, from railler to mock

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The first known use of raillery was in 1643

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Cite this Entry

“Raillery.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/raillery. Accessed 16 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for raillery


rail·​lery | \ ˈrā-lə-rē How to pronounce raillery (audio) \

Kids Definition of raillery

: an act or instance of making fun of someone in a good-natured way

More from Merriam-Webster on raillery

Nglish: Translation of raillery for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of raillery for Arabic Speakers


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