wit·​ty | \ ˈwi-tē How to pronounce witty (audio) \
wittier; wittiest

Definition of witty

1 : marked by or full of clever humor or wit : smartly facetious or jocular a witty novel
2 : quick or ready to see or express illuminating or amusing relationships or insights a witty raconteur
3 : amusingly or ingeniously clever in conception or execution the costumes are sumptuous and witty— Virgil Thomson the musical background is … often witty— Wolcott Gibbs
4 archaic : having good intellectual capacity : intelligent

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Other Words from witty

wittily \ ˈwi-​tə-​lē How to pronounce wittily (audio) \ adverb
wittiness \ ˈwi-​tē-​nəs How to pronounce wittiness (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for witty

witty, humorous, facetious, jocular, jocose mean provoking or intended to provoke laughter. witty suggests cleverness and quickness of mind. a witty remark humorous applies broadly to anything that evokes usually genial laughter and may contrast with witty in suggesting whimsicality or eccentricity. humorous anecdotes facetious stresses a desire to produce laughter and may be derogatory in implying dubious or ill-timed attempts at wit or humor. facetious comments jocular implies a usually habitual fondness for jesting and joking. a jocular fellow jocose is somewhat less derogatory than facetious in suggesting habitual waggishness or playfulness. jocose proposals

Witty and Wise

When we call someone witty, we are typically ascribing to them the quality of clever humor. This has not always been the case: witty (and the word it is formed from, wit) originally referred to intelligence or good judgment. Although the “mentally capable” meaning of witty has largely become obsolete, we still see vestiges of it in various expressions involving wit, such as wit and wisdom or out of one’s wits. Another phrase, to wit, meaning “that is, namely,” comes directly from the Middle English to witen (“to know”).

Examples of witty in a Sentence

We'd kept everything witty and cool, until the air between us was so ironized that to say anything in earnest would have been a breach of manners, even of trust. — Tobias Wolff, Old School, 2003 … when she walked up to me and made a caustic remark on the principal's address of the morning, I couldn't help laughing, as she was obviously not only intelligent but very witty. — Margaret A. Edwards, The Fair Garden and the Swarm of Beasts, 1994 Yet for all his solemnity, Hamlet was also the play's and Shakespeare's wittiest wit, with as many one-liners as any comic in the whole canon. — Reed Whittemore, Pure Lives, 1988 a witty talk show host a witty and sardonic blogger who never fails to amuse his legion of readers
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Recent Examples on the Web In time, Fisher developed a public image as a witty if troubled observer of life in general and Hollywood in particular. Douglass K. Daniel, SFChronicle.com, "Review: Carrie Fisher bio as sharp, endearing as its subject," 31 Dec. 2019 The book is a witty satirical take on the rich and famous of Mumbai. Manavi Kapur, Quartz India, "Wondering what to read next? Here’s what Sonali Bendre’s book club read in 2019," 27 Dec. 2019 Gerwig’s film is the eighth film adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott novel that lets readers escape into the 19th-century New England world of witty Jo March and her three sisters. Sheila Cordner, The Conversation, "Like ‘Little Women,’ books by Zitkála-Šá and Taha Hussein are classics," 11 Dec. 2019 At his restaurants, Mazzera was known for being a welcoming, witty and energetic host, loved by diners as well as employees. Janelle Bitker, SFChronicle.com, "Remembering Richard Mazzera, who pioneered tapas-style dining at César in Berkeley," 18 Dec. 2019 Don't Trust the B---- in Apartment 23 Similar to Happy Endings, the show quickly became a fan favorite for its witty and relatable storylines. Jodi Guglielmi, PEOPLE.com, "From Happy Endings to Limitless: the 10 Most Heartbreaking Show Cancelations of the Decade," 12 Dec. 2019 Short History of Nearly Everything, the witty and accessible author has turned his attention toward the workings of the human body. Jay Bennett, Smithsonian, "The Ten Best Science Books of 2019," 11 Dec. 2019 The result is a witty, nicely ambiguous variation on one of Crowley’s central fictional notions: There is more than one history of the world. Bill Sheehan, Washington Post, "John Crowley continues an uncharacteristically prolific period with the singular ‘And Go Like This’," 6 Dec. 2019 In effect, the entire movie is one of duelling monologues, spoken and unspoken: two hours of sharp, painful, witty, and elegant talk that is nonetheless rooted in the impossibility of communication. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "What’s Missing from the Brilliant “Marriage Story”," 14 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'witty.' 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 witty

before the 12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for witty

see wit entry 2

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Learn More about witty

Time Traveler for witty

Time Traveler

The first known use of witty was before the 12th century

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Statistics for witty

Last Updated

25 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Witty.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wittiness. Accessed 26 January 2020.

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More Definitions for witty


How to pronounce witty (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of witty

: funny and clever


wit·​ty | \ ˈwi-tē How to pronounce witty (audio) \
wittier; wittiest

Kids Definition of witty

: having or showing cleverness a witty person a witty remark

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More from Merriam-Webster on witty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for witty

Spanish Central: Translation of witty

Nglish: Translation of witty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of witty for Arabic Speakers

Comments on witty

What made you want to look up witty? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to express in a more acceptable way

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