witty

adjective
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

The emphasis on personal relationships and witty-ish dialogue renders The Young Marx more like a British television period drama than a stirring historical epic. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "Karl Marx Has a Hangover," 2 Mar. 2018 In this film, RJ stars as Dan, Sierra’s witty, clarinet-playing best friend. Hanna Lustig, Teen Vogue, "Meet the Entire Cast of "Sierra Burgess Is a Loser" and the Characters They Play: Shannon Purser, Noah Centineo, RJ Cyler, and More," 6 Sep. 2018 The humor of this trifling anecdote is uncannily pitched to 3- to 6-year-olds, and Gomi’s witty one-dimensional illustrations drolly complement his storytelling. John Lithgow, New York Times, "Grandmas and Grandpas Are a Kid’s Natural Allies in These Books," 22 June 2018 The kids with their arms crossed and feet up on the desk, chit-chatting about irrelevant nonsense and then expounding witty, on-point retorts when the professor tries to catch them off-guard. Eli Enis, Billboard, "Parquet Courts on Resisting Nihilism & Why Working With Kids Was 'Pretty Scary'," 16 May 2018 Part talk-show, part feminist comedy, hosts Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff splice their witty commentary into retellings of each episode’s central murder. Allie Volpe, Teen Vogue, "10 Best Crime Podcasts," 30 Aug. 2018 Then, Ann noticed his Chicago, IL geo-tag, hence the witty pick up line. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Coolest Wedding of the Year: Ann Brady & Scott Kelce's New Year's Celebration," 30 Dec. 2016 There was the witty, straight-talking maverick, and the veteran senator who voted with his party more often than not (though not as frequently as leadership would have liked). Caroline Houck, Vox, "Who was John McCain? The best answer is in this 18-year-old David Foster Wallace essay," 26 Aug. 2018 Beyond that, the objects get more witty, imaginative, experimental and colorful. New York Times, "What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week," 20 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

19 Apr 2019

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 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).

WORD OF THE DAY

to affect and impair by alcohol or a drug

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

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!