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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Katie was -- and is -- a pretty extraordinary woman -- witty, quirky and very attractive. Sandra Gonzalez, CNN, "Tributes to the entertainers and artists who died from coronavirus," 24 Apr. 2020 Naturally, fans are freaking out over the witty back and forth—ourselves included. Rebecca Norris, Country Living, "Donnie Wahlberg is Co-Hosting 'The Jenny McCarthy Show' with Wife Jenny McCarthy on SiriusXM," 23 Apr. 2020 The witty, technology genius and sister to T’Challa will return for the film’s sequel. Stephanie Toone, ajc, "Here are the ‘Black Panther’ characters confirmed to appear in the Marvel sequel," 9 Mar. 2020 On the last page of Horace Pippin, American Modern, Anne Monahan reproduces a witty and informative drawing titled How to Look at Modern Art in America. Sanford Schwartz, The New York Review of Books, "With Flying Colors," 29 Apr. 2020 Erudite, witty and exceptionally observant, Angell leaves readers stunned by his command of the English language. Bruce Jenkins, SFChronicle.com, "Missing baseball during coronavirus shutdown? Here are 10 books to fill the void," 9 Apr. 2020 And though there is a much about Woody Allen to disapprove, his best work is undeniably witty. Deborah Martin, ExpressNews.com, "Sydney Ladensohn Stern’s new book ‘The Brothers Mankiewicz’ digs into the lives of the men behind ‘All About Eve’ and other classics," 8 Apr. 2020 The old friends’ witty banter (and many celebrity impressions) color their visits to iconic Spanish historic sites and many mouth-watering restaurants – follow along with your own tapas and wine at home for optimal viewing. Shannon Mcmahon, USA TODAY, "8 great films that double as travel movies, from 'Crazy Rich Asians' to 'Little Women'," 11 Apr. 2020 Bouchet’s action sequences are flawless, vivid, and exciting, only matched by her gift for witty banter between her wise-cracking, kick-ass protagonists. Maureen Lee Lenker, EW.com, "The 10 best romance novels of 2019," 23 Dec. 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.

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

Time Traveler for witty

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for witty

Last Updated

30 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Witty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/witty. Accessed 6 Jun. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

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

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Add Diction

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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