Definition of repartee
1a : a quick and witty replyb : a succession or interchange of clever retorts : amusing and usually light sparring with words
2 : adroitness and cleverness in reply : skill in repartee
Examples of repartee in a sentence
The two comedians engaged in witty repartee.
<that repartee to the reporter's question drew laughs from the bystanders>
Did You Know?
One person often noted for her repartee was Dorothy Parker, writer and legendary member of the Algonquin Round Table. Upon hearing that Calvin Coolidge had died, she replied, "How can they tell?" The taciturn Coolidge obviously didn’t have a reputation for being the life of the party, but he himself came out with a particularly famous repartee on one occasion. When a dinner guest approached him and told him she had bet someone she could get him to say more than two words, he replied, "You lose." Repartee, our word for such a quick, sharp reply (and for skill with such replies) comes from the French repartie, of the same meaning. Repartie comes from the French verb repartir, meaning "to retort."
Origin and Etymology of repartee
French repartie, from repartir to retort, from Medieval French, from re- + partir to divide — more at part
First Known Use: 1637
Synonym Discussion of repartee
REPARTEE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of repartee for English Language Learners
: conversation in which clever statements and replies are made quickly
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up repartee? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).