rep·​ar·​tee | \ ˌre-pər-ˈtē How to pronounce repartee (audio) , -ˌpär-, -ˈtā How to pronounce repartee (audio) \

Definition of repartee

1a : a quick and witty reply
b : a succession or interchange of clever retorts : amusing and usually light sparring with words
2 : adroitness and cleverness in reply : skill in repartee

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for repartee


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for repartee

wit, humor, irony, sarcasm, satire, repartee mean a mode of expression intended to arouse amusement. wit suggests the power to evoke laughter by remarks showing verbal felicity or ingenuity and swift perception especially of the incongruous. a playful wit humor implies an ability to perceive the ludicrous, the comical, and the absurd in human life and to express these usually without bitterness. a sense of humor irony applies to a manner of expression in which the intended meaning is the opposite of what is seemingly expressed. the irony of the title sarcasm applies to expression frequently in the form of irony that is intended to cut or wound. given to heartless sarcasm satire applies to writing that exposes or ridicules conduct, doctrines, or institutions either by direct criticism or more often through irony, parody, or caricature. a satire on the Congress repartee implies the power of answering quickly, pointedly, or wittily. a dinner guest noted for repartee

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."

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
Recent Examples on the Web The series, which ran from 1985 to 1992, depicted four Miami roommates, senior citizens who were quick with the repartee and loved big padded shoulders and cheesecake slices at the kitchen table. Lois K. Solomon,, 7 Sep. 2021 Now that his wife’s gone, their repartee feels edgy. Amanda Whiting, Vulture, 20 Aug. 2021 Bromley's dialogue is breathtaking in this rom-com gem with witty repartee a la Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. USA Today, 28 May 2021 Bilson’s instant onscreen chemistry and witty repartee with Adam Brody (who portrayed Seth Cohen) convinced Josh Schwartz, the show’s creator and executive producer, to give her a main role. Olivia-anne Cleary, Vulture, 27 Apr. 2021 Interspersing actual footage of the riots, Sorkin masterfully mirrors recent social unrest with that of a bygone era and also throws in his signature snappy repartee and witty zingers throughout, especially the legal-eagle stuff. USA Today, 22 Apr. 2021 Prendiville’s taut and lively direction is helped by two actors who have great chemistry together and an easy repartee. San Diego Union-Tribune, 8 Mar. 2021 The repartee is part of the job — a job that is inherently intimate. Emily Opilo,, 7 Mar. 2021 The concept of Men in Kilts is simple: Imagine The Trip, the Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon comedic travelogue franchise, but without the acerbic repartee. Sophie Gilbert, The Atlantic, 3 Mar. 2021

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

See More

First Known Use of repartee

1637, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for repartee

French repartie, from repartir to retort, from Middle French, from re- + partir to divide — more at part

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About repartee

Time Traveler for repartee

Time Traveler

The first known use of repartee was in 1637

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About repartee

Dictionary Entries Near repartee




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for repartee

Last Updated

15 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Repartee.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for repartee



English Language Learners Definition of repartee

: conversation in which clever statements and replies are made quickly

More from Merriam-Webster on repartee

Nglish: Translation of repartee for Spanish Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Spelling Words Quiz

  • alphabet pasta spelling help
  • Which is the correct spelling?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

 AlphaBear 2

Spell words. Make bears.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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