adjective wit·ty \ ˈwi-tē \
|Updated on: 9 Aug 2018

Definition of witty

wittier; wittiest
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


play \ˈwi-tə-lē\ adverb


play \ˈwi-tē-nəs\ noun

Examples of witty in a Sentence

  1. 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 WolffOld School2003
  2. … 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. EdwardsThe Fair Garden and the Swarm of Beasts1994
  3. 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 WhittemorePure Lives1988
  4. a witty talk show host

  5. a witty and sardonic blogger who never fails to amuse his legion of readers

Recent Examples of witty from the Web

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.

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”).

Origin and Etymology of witty

see 2wit

Synonym Discussion of 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 Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of witty for English Language Learners

  • : funny and clever

WITTY Defined for Kids


adjective wit·ty \ ˈwi-tē \

Definition of witty for Students

wittier; wittiest
: having or showing cleverness
  • a witty person
  • a witty remark

Seen and Heard

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excessive admiration or flattery

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