Late night talk show hosts are known for being experts at repartee, or clever conversation, with their celebrity guests.

Repartee comes from the French word repartire which is a fencing term meaning an answering thrust with a sword. When you are engaging in repartee, you don't literally stab someone, but you come back with a quick sharp blow. Most of us aren't as quick as we'd like to be. Mark Twain defined repartee as, "something we think of 24 hours too late."

Definitions of repartee

n adroitness and cleverness in reply

backchat, banter, give-and-take, raillery
light teasing repartee
frivolous banter
light teasing
Type of:
humor, humour, wit, witticism, wittiness
a message whose ingenuity or verbal skill or incongruity has the power to evoke laughter

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