wit·​ty | \ ˈwi-tē How to pronounce witty (audio) \
wittier; wittiest

Essential Meaning of witty

: funny and clever a witty talk show host a witty remark

Full 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 How to pronounce witty (audio) \ adverb
wittiness \ ˈwi-​tē-​nəs How to pronounce witty (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
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Recent Examples on the Web Daniel Craig as James Bond, plus actors Lashana Lynch (who plays super-skilled, secret agent Nomi) and Naomie Harris (as the wise and witty MI6 secretary Moneypenny), all wear OMEGA timepieces. Kyle Roderick, Forbes, 8 Oct. 2021 There’s always room for a new take on our all-too-human need for love, or, failing that, companionship, and this one, playing in theaters, is a particularly wise and witty example. Joe Morgenstern, WSJ, 23 Sep. 2021 Against this background, the Irish novelist Colm Tóibín has managed to write an incisive and witty novel that shows what good company the Nobelist and his family might have been. Washington Post, 14 Sep. 2021 Babbit’s coming-of-age lesbian comedy combines Waters’s kitsch aesthetic with her own ’90s style, telling a knowing and witty story of the 17-year-old Megan (Natasha Lyonne) being sent to a conversion-therapy camp. David Sims, The Atlantic, 8 Sep. 2021 Also, the property's brand pillars are quirky and witty in their approach to hospitality, which is why Estancia launched Boozy Garden Tea Times, Abelsohn says. Brittany Anas, Forbes, 29 Aug. 2021 Her declining to invite Ashley to two events in a row isn’t witty or conniving it just … is. Justin Curto, Vulture, 10 Aug. 2021 That sets the bar high with the promise of a cultural landmark — a novel that’s timely, hilarious, witty, mildly terrifying, emotionally textured and conversant on the social and political issues that Black women face in the world and the workplace. Washington Post, 9 June 2021 Whereas Frances and Bobbi, the witty and wanting Trinity College students of Rooney’s début, bounced together from outing to outing, Alice and Eileen have completed their thick-as-thieves period as early twentysomethings. Lauren Michele Jackson, The New Yorker, 10 Sep. 2021

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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Time Traveler for witty

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

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Last Updated

14 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Witty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/witty. Accessed 25 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for witty


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

More from Merriam-Webster on witty

Nglish: Translation of witty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of witty for Arabic Speakers


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