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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web

As the longest-sitting panelist on the show (20 years to be exact), Joy has brought constant witty humor and fiery passion to the series. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Why 'The View' Star Joy Behar Doesn't Use Her Real Name," 29 Nov. 2018 Not when there was always the next big card on the horizon, the next witty catchphrase to market on a T-shirt or a future movie star in the making to keep fans hooked. Dan Gelston, The Seattle Times, "WWE sticks with Saudi Arabia deal despite backlash from fans," 30 Oct. 2018 But with witty, self-aware yet self-aggrandizing remarks like that, Daniels has been established, in some 30 minutes of airtime, as a defining figure of a presidency that had so far seemed to allow only one. Daniel D'addario, Time, "The Reality Show President Has Met His Match in Stormy Daniels," 27 Mar. 2018 While the songs hold their own, with help from Jason Neri’s five-piece band, melodies do not linger, and lyrics are more declarative than witty. Hugh Hunter, Philly.com, "In 'The Last Five Years,' a marriage's end is recounted in musical storytelling," 3 June 2018 From witty quips to more serious discussions about ageism and the Time's Up movement, the awards show wasn't short on using thank you speeches as platforms for bigger, and meatier, moments. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "These Were the 5 Best Speeches From the 2018 SAG Awards," 22 Jan. 2018 The joy of the romantic comedy lies less in its mise en scène, and more in its witty repartee and character chemistry, which Set It Up is loaded with. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Can Netflix’s Set It Up Help Revive the Romantic Comedy?," 21 June 2018 Looking for a strong woman protagonist spouting witty one-liners? Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "The 10 best sci-fi and fantasy TV shows you’re not watching," 3 May 2018 This Australian comedy blends emotional sob sessions with witty one-liners, leaving you pitying and laughing at the new parents. Sara Aridi, New York Times, "What’s on TV Saturday: ‘The Letdown’ and ‘Indivisible’," 21 Apr. 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.

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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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Statistics for witty

Last Updated

13 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for witty

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

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More Definitions for witty



English Language Learners Definition of witty

: funny and clever


wit·​ty | \ˈwi-tē \
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

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