witty

adjective
wit·ty | \ˈwi-tē \
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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from witty

wittily \ˈwi-tə-lē \ adverb
wittiness \ˈwi-tē-nəs \ 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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

Oh is terrific as the title character, creating a complex woman who’s caustic, witty, intense and imperfect. Glenn Whipp, latimes.com, "Emmy snubs and surprises: New faces are in, old institutions are out and Sandra Oh makes history," 12 July 2018 The witty, biting repartee among the ladies begins almost immediately, setting the tone for 18 rounds of non-stop put downs, hurt feelings, revelations and reconciliations. Mitchel Benson, sacbee, "‘Ladies Foursome’ maintains remarkable chemistry in return to B Street Theatre," 10 July 2018 Hiaasen, who had deep family and journalism roots in South Florida, was a rare voice in the media — warm, witty, often comforting. David Ovalle, miamiherald, "Rob Hiaasen, journalist killed in Maryland newsroom shooting, had deep South Florida ties," 28 June 2018 In many ways Maquia seems to represent an every-girl: not particularly witty, brave or adventurous like her high-spirited best friend Leilia, who jumps off waterfalls and flies laughing through the air. Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms': Film Review | Shanghai 2018," 27 June 2018 As with other protest marches in recent years, attendees came prepared with posters displaying slogans that were the perfect combination of powerful and witty. De Elizabeth, Teen Vogue, "Best Signs From the Families Belong Together Marches," 30 June 2018 In conversation, Bloom is candid, reflective, and sincere—but with a natural talent for knowing when to veer off into a witty aside or a wicked joke. Scott Meslow, GQ, "Rachel Bloom Has a Lot to Say," 13 June 2018 Kay was known for her joking and witty sense of humor. courant.com, "Kathryn Meunier," 8 June 2018 Her father had been a computer-science professor and her mother had been a salesclerk, but their success in those former roles had hinged on being loquacious and witty in their native language, none of which translated into English. Weike Wang, The New Yorker, "Omakase," 6 June 2018

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about witty

Statistics for witty

Last Updated

4 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for witty

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for witty

witty

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of witty

: funny and clever

witty

adjective
wit·ty | \ˈwi-tē \
wittier; wittiest

Kids Definition of witty

: having or showing cleverness a witty person a witty remark

Keep scrolling for more

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).

WORD OF THE DAY

not any or not one

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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