All terms

What is Repartee?

A witty and clever exchange of remarks.

Repartee: The Art of Witty and Quick Humor

Repartee is the witty and clever exchange of remarks which requires quick thinking and a good sense of humor. This form of communication involves a rapid back-and-forth between two or more individuals, where one responds to the other’s statement with a clever and unexpected conversational quip. While repartee can certainly be spontaneous, it is also an art that can be honed and perfected through practice.

Etymologically, the term repartee comes from the French word ‘repartie’ which means ‘a reply’. Repartee involves playing with words, paying close attention to grammar and syntax, and using language in a clever and insightful way. It is a testament to the power of language and how it can be used to create a fun and engaging conversation.

Repartee is often used in literature, film, and theatre to create memorable characters and entertaining scenes. It is a perfect tool for creating interesting dialogue and can help bring stories and characters to life in a unique and engaging way.

Repartee in the Written Word: Examples from Literature

Here are two examples of repartee in literature:

The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde

In The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde, the characters Algernon and Jack engage in a witty exchange:

Algernon: I really don’t see anything romantic in proposing. It is very romantic to be in love. But there is nothing romantic about a definite proposal. Why, one may be accepted. One usually is, I believe. Then the excitement is all over. The very essence of romance is uncertainty. If ever I get married, I’ll certainly try to forget the fact.

Jack: I have no doubt about that, dear Algy. The Divorce Court was specially invented for people whose memories are so curiously constituted.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jane Austen is also known for her use of repartee in her novels, like this exchange from Pride and Prejudice:

Elizabeth: Oh, Mr. Darcy! I am excessively diverted.

Darcy: I should have judged better, had I sought an introduction; but I am ill-qualified to recommend myself to strangers.”

Elizabeth: “Shall we ask your cousin the reason of this?”

“said Elizabeth, still addressing Colonel Fitzwilliam. “Shall we ask him why a man of sense and education, and who has lived in the world, is ill qualified to recommend himself to strangers?”