Synonyms & Antonyms of retort

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 a quick witty response
  • she responded to the heckler with a scathing but hilarious retort that instantly won over the audience

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2 something spoken or written in reaction especially to a question
  • the salesclerk responded to my query about the price with a brusque retort

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Synonyms & Antonyms of retort (Entry 2 of 2)

to speak or write in reaction to a question or to another reaction
  • when told she couldn't have it, she retorted, "Fine, I didn't want it anyway!"

Synonyms for retort

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Frequently Asked Questions About retort

How does the noun retort differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of retort are answer, rejoinder, reply, and response. While all these words mean "something spoken, written, or done in return," retort implies a reaction to an implicit or explicit charge, criticism, or attack which contains a countercharge or counterattack.

she made a cutting retort to her critics

When can answer be used instead of retort?

While the synonyms answer and retort are close in meaning, answer implies the satisfying of a question, demand, call, or need.

had answers to all their questions

In what contexts can rejoinder take the place of retort?

Although the words rejoinder and retort have much in common, rejoinder can be a response to a reply or to an objection.

a salesman with a quick rejoinder to every argument

When would reply be a good substitute for retort?

The synonyms reply and retort are sometimes interchangeable, but reply often suggests a thorough response to all issues, points, or questions raised.

a point-by-point reply to the accusation

When is it sensible to use response instead of retort?

While in some cases nearly identical to retort, response may imply a quick or spontaneous reaction to a person or thing that serves as a stimulus.

a response to the call for recruits

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Time Traveler for retort

Time Traveler

The first known use of retort was circa 1505

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Cite this Entry

“Retort.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jan. 2021.

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More from Merriam-Webster on retort

Dictionary: Definition of retort

Medical Dictionary: Definition of retort

Nglish: Translation of retort for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of retort for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about retort

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