ri·​poste ri-ˈpōst How to pronounce riposte (audio)
: a fencer's quick return thrust following a parry
: a retaliatory verbal sally : retort
: a retaliatory maneuver or measure
riposte verb

Did you know?

In the sport of fencing, a riposte is a counterattack made after successfully fending off one's opponent. English speakers borrowed the name for this particular maneuver from French in the early 1700s, but the French had simply modified the Italian word risposta, which literally means "answer." Ultimately these words come from the Latin verb respondēre, meaning "to respond." It seems fitting that riposte has since come full circle to now refer to a quick and witty response performed as a form of retaliation.

Examples of riposte in a Sentence

he's known for having a brilliant riposte to nearly any insult
Recent Examples on the Web His lawyers have offered relatively little in the way of riposte—and have been pilloried for it. WIRED, 20 Oct. 2023 One Israeli police officer, his pistol a pitiful riposte to the automatic weapons of Hamas terrorists, screamed at her to go east, away from Gaza. Roger Cohen Avishag Shaar-Yashuv, New York Times, 15 Oct. 2023 In that sense, my book is a riposte to that kind of right-wing mythmaking. Jasmine Liu, The New Republic, 12 July 2023 Throughout the Cold War, Russia and the United States both knew that a nuclear war was unwinnable—an attack by one would surely produce a cataclysmic riposte by the other. Matthew Gavin Frank, Harper's Magazine, 3 May 2023 The move set off a public riposte from the Sudanese military, which insisted the Egyptians were there on a training exercise. Declan Walsh, New York Times, 22 Apr. 2023 Giotto's next riposte to Enzo would be even more significant. Brendan McAleer, Car and Driver, 16 May 2023 Increasingly, many will shift their approaches in the course of the game, responding to the lunges, the parries and the ripostes of their opponents. Rory Smith, New York Times, 3 Mar. 2023 Plenty of other gay and lesbian soldiers have also posted photos and videos of themselves online, some sporting unicorn insignia on their uniform, the mythical creature an ironic riposte to the idea that there are no LGBTQ people in the military. Matt Bradley, NBC News, 16 Apr. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'riposte.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French, modification of Italian risposta, literally, answer, from rispondere to respond, from Latin respondēre

First Known Use

1707, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of riposte was in 1707


Dictionary Entries Near riposte

Cite this Entry

“Riposte.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


ri·​poste ri-ˈpōst How to pronounce riposte (audio)
: a fencer's quick return thrust
: a quick reply or action in return

More from Merriam-Webster on riposte

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