wit·​ty ˈwi-tē How to pronounce witty (audio)
wittier; wittiest
: marked by or full of clever humor or wit : smartly facetious or jocular
a witty novel
: quick or ready to see or express illuminating or amusing relationships or insights
a witty raconteur
: amusingly or ingeniously clever in conception or execution
the costumes are sumptuous and wittyVirgil Thomson
the musical background is … often wittyWolcott Gibbs
archaic : having good intellectual capacity : intelligent
wittily adverb
wittiness noun

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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”).

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

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
Recent Examples on the Web The book, which won a National Book Award, is a moving and witty meditation on loss, consolation, the art of fiction and the many shapes that love and friendship can assume. Heller McAlpin, WSJ, 24 Nov. 2023 These unique cards offer a lighthearted and witty take on traditional affirmations, boosting positivity with a touch of sarcasm. Poppy Morgan, Rolling Stone, 22 Nov. 2023 The portmanteau film is a witty exploration of contemporary love stories via an AirBnB rental. John Bleasdale, Variety, 18 Nov. 2023 It’s also earned praise for its witty, feminist sendup of the popular toy line, as well as its creative risks. Clayton Davis, Variety, 9 Nov. 2023 In this live segment, Andy has gathered the wittiest shade assassins for a wig-splitting evening. Ronny Maye, Essence, 3 Nov. 2023 Watch it for the witty one-liners, the winning final act, and Pete Davidson’s extended cameo as Charlie’s deadpan flatmate. Radhika Seth, Vogue, 3 Nov. 2023 Perry's witty yet sarcastic character Chandler always brought jokes to every scene. Keith Langston, Peoplemag, 2 Nov. 2023 Ruscha’s art is filled with witty and insightful wordplay and puns, and this one now clings to the little volume. Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, 23 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'witty.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


see wit entry 2

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near witty

Cite this Entry

“Witty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/witty. Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


wit·​ty ˈwit-ē How to pronounce witty (audio)
wittier; wittiest
: marked by or full of wit : amusing
a witty writer
a witty remark
wittily adverb
wittiness noun

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