Word of the Day: Repartee


rep-ar-tee / rĕp-ər-, rĕp-ər-, rĕp-är-, rĕp-är-


1. a quick, clever reply

Repartee is something we think of twenty-four hours too late. 

Mark Twain, 1835 – 1910

2. conversation filled with quick, clever remarks

Thus, with laugh and jest, and good-natured repartee, did these men bear the pangs of hunger for many days.

From “The Red Eric” by R.M. Ballantyne, 1825 – 1894

3. skill in coming up with quick, clever replies

Repartee is altogether a natural endowment, and is the lightning of the mind.

Alfred de Musset, 1810 – 1857


From the French feminine noun repartie (an answering blow or thrust [originally a fencing term], retort, riposte), which began as the feminine form of the past participle of the French verb repartir (set out, start again, reply, retort). Repartir is derived from the Latin verb partio, partire, partivi, partitum [ also found as partior, partiri, partitus/partita/partitum] ( part, share, divide, apportion, distribute) plus the Latin prefix re– (back, again).

Thank you to Allen Ward for providing this etymology.