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See also: repartée


Alternative forms[edit]


From French repartie, deverbal of repartir (to retort).



repartee (countable and uncountable, plural repartees)

  1. A swift, witty reply, especially one that is amusing.
    Synonyms: see Thesaurus:joke
    • 1851, Herman Melville, Moby-Dick
      Yet habit—strange thing! what cannot habit accomplish?—Gayer sallies, more merry mirth, better jokes, and brighter repartees, you never heard over your mahogany []
    • 1919, W. Somerset Maugham, The Moon and Sixpence, chapter 41
      A slight smile broke on his lips. ¶ "You are always prepared to sacrifice your principles for a repartee," he answered.
  2. A conversation marked by a series of witty retorts.
  3. Skill in replying swiftly and wittily.
    • 1897 December (indicated as 1898), Winston Churchill, chapter 8, in The Celebrity: An Episode, New York, N.Y.: The Macmillan Company; London: Macmillan & Co., Ltd., OCLC 222716698:
      The humor of my proposition appealed more strongly to Miss Trevor than I had looked for, and from that time forward she became her old self again; []. Our table in the dining-room became again the abode of scintillating wit and caustic repartee, Farrar bracing up to his old standard, and the demand for seats in the vicinity rose to an animated competition.



repartee (third-person singular simple present repartees, present participle reparteeing, simple past and past participle reparteed)

  1. To reply with a repartee
    • 1862, Various, The Continental Monthly[1], Vol. 2 No 4:
      Aubrey speaks of him as 'incomparable at reparteeing, the bull that was bayted, his witt beinge most sparkling, when most set on and provoked.'
  2. To have a repartee (conversation marked by repartees)
    • 1913, Gouverneur Morris, The Penalty[2]:
      To see them together, friendly, reparteeing, chummy, would turn your stomach--Barbara so exquisite and high-born, and the man, his eyes full of evil fires, sitting like a great toad on the model's chair.


Further reading[edit]