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

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Synonyms for repartee


comeback, retort, riposte

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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

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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

Her repartee between the songs is lively and seasoned with funny stories of her life in the jazz world. Jane Napier Neely, La Cañada Valley Sun, "The Valley Line: Jazz lovers savor ‘Rhythm & Brews BBQ’," 10 Sep. 2019 For England supporters, three Australians in particular, will represent a very attractive target for some repartee and no shortage of booing. James Masters, CNN, "The Ashes: Sledging and the bitter fight for iconic minuscule trophy," 31 July 2019 Elsman’s loosey-goosey turn entails plenty of repartee with the audience -- as indeed, does much of Melville’s off-the-cuff staging. Los Angeles Times, "Review: A ‘Twelfth Night’ to outrage Shakespeare purists with delightful defilement for the rest of us," 28 July 2019 But both before and after that, there’s lots of thoughtful grown-up repartee between Quinn and her husband. Richard Lipez, Washington Post, "Looking for a summer thriller? Here are 9 picks for your beach bag.," 20 June 2019 The stream-of-conscious repartee can come rat-tat-tat-ing at a dizzying pace. Rod Stafford Hagwood,, "Desus Nice and Kid Mero bring their live act to Miami," 5 July 2019 Whitford and Moss slip into a playful repartee that often induces laughter despite the show's grim tone. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Bradley Whitford Is More Confused By His Handmaid's Tale Character Than You," 20 June 2019 There's no word yet on the show's next premiere date, but expect to tune in for another round of up-and-coming vocalists and lighthearted coach-on-coach repartee this fall. Blair Donovan, Country Living, "This Is How Gwen Stefani Really Feels About Replacing Adam Levine on 'The Voice'," 9 June 2019 Thank you to our editor, Joel Raabe, and our producer, Eric Johnson, who also has enjoyed Lauren’s repartee over the many years. Eric Johnson, Recode, "Lauren Goode returns for the final episode of Too Embarrassed to Ask," 3 Aug. 2018

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.

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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

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Last Updated

15 Sep 2019

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The first known use of repartee was in 1637

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English Language Learners Definition of repartee

: conversation in which clever statements and replies are made quickly

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More from Merriam-Webster on repartee

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with repartee

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Spanish Central: Translation of repartee

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recurring in steady succession

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