witticism

Witticism describes something funny that someone says, like a pun or little joke. You may have heard that it is good to start off a speech with witticism because if you make the audience laugh, it'll help them — and you — relax.

English playwright and poet John Dryden coined the word witticism in the seventeenth century, combining the words witty and criticism to come up with a word to describe a clever quip that has a hint of sharpness or irony. A witticism is typically a one-liner that humorously sums up the current situation — with a little bit of attitude thrown in.

Definitions of witticism
  1. noun
    a message whose ingenuity or verbal skill or incongruity has the power to evoke laughter
    synonyms: humor, humour, wit, wittiness
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    types:
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    jeu d'esprit
    a witty comment or writing
    bon mot, mot
    a clever remark
    esprit de l'escalier
    a witty remark that occurs to you too late
    bite, pungency
    wit having a sharp and caustic quality
    caustic remark, irony, sarcasm, satire
    witty language used to convey insults or scorn
    repartee
    adroitness and cleverness in reply
    gag, jape, jest, joke, laugh
    a humorous anecdote or remark intended to provoke laughter
    caricature, imitation, impersonation
    a representation of a person that is exaggerated for comic effect
    cartoon, sketch
    a humorous or satirical drawing published in a newspaper or magazine
    fun, play, sport
    verbal wit or mockery (often at another's expense but not to be taken seriously)
    ribaldry
    ribald humor
    topper
    an exceedingly good witticism that surpasses all that have gone before
    mock-heroic
    a satirical imitation of heroic verse
    backchat, banter, give-and-take, raillery
    light teasing repartee
    belly laugh, howler, riot, scream, sidesplitter, thigh-slapper, wow
    a joke that seems extremely funny
    blue joke, blue story, dirty joke, dirty story
    an indelicate joke
    ethnic joke
    a joke at the expense of some ethnic group
    funny, funny remark, funny story, good story
    an account of an amusing incident (usually with a punch line)
    in-joke
    a joke that is appreciated only by members of some particular group of people
    one-liner
    a one-line joke
    shaggy dog story
    a long rambling joke whose humor derives from its pointlessness
    sick joke
    a joke in bad taste
    sight gag, visual joke
    a joke whose effect is achieved by visual means rather than by speech (as in a movie)
    burlesque, charade, lampoon, mockery, parody, pasquinade, put-on, sendup, spoof, takeoff, travesty
    a composition that imitates or misrepresents somebody's style, usually in a humorous way
    jocosity, jocularity
    fun characterized by humor
    waggery, waggishness
    waggish behavior
    clowning, comedy, drollery, funniness
    a comic incident or series of incidents
    paronomasia, pun, punning, wordplay
    a humorous play on words
    cartoon strip, comic strip, funnies, strip
    a sequence of drawings telling a story in a newspaper or comic book
    type of:
    content, message, subject matter, substance
    what a communication that is about something is about
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