noun rep·ar·tee \ˌre-pər-ˈtē, -ˌpär-, -ˈtā\

Definition of repartee

  1. 1a :  a quick and witty replyb :  a succession or interchange of clever retorts :  amusing and usually light sparring with words

  2. 2 :  adroitness and cleverness in reply :  skill in repartee

repartee was our Word of the Day on 04/25/2010. Hear the podcast!

Examples of repartee in a sentence

  1. The two comedians engaged in witty repartee.

  2. 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

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.

REPARTEE Defined for English Language Learners


noun rep·ar·tee \ˌre-pər-ˈtē, -ˌpär-, -ˈtā\

Definition of repartee for English Language Learners

  • : conversation in which clever statements and replies are made quickly

Seen and Heard

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a rounded knoll or a ridge of ice

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