Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A humorous remark or act; a jest.
  • n. A polite social utterance; a civility: exchanged pleasantries before getting down to business.
  • n. A good-humored or playful manner in conversation or social relations.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A casual, courteous remark
  • n. A playful remark; a jest

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That which denotes or promotes pleasure or good humor; cheerfulness; gayety; merriment; especially, an agreeable playfulness in conversation; a jocose or humorous remark; badinage.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Good humor; cheerfulness; sprightliness.
  • n. Humorousness: jocularity; witticism; raillery; wit.
  • n. A sprightly or humorous saying; a jest.
  • n. A laughable trick; a prank; a caper: as, the pleasantries of monkeys. Addison.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an agreeable or amusing remark

Etymologies

French plaisanterie, from Old French plesanterie, from plaisant, pleasant; see pleasant.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
pleasant +‎ -ry (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • His matter quite apart -- and it is always interesting -- and abstractedly from his pervasive pleasantry, which is always original, it is a wonder that he is not more esteemed than he is in an age which professes to set store by style.

    Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science Volume 15, No. 87, March, 1875

  • I saw enough to conclude, that Ancennis was not without the characteristic French elegance; and I must once for all say, that the manners of Marmontel are founded in nature, and that the daughters of the yeomanry and humbler farmers in France have an elegance, a vivacity, and a pleasantry, which is no where to be found out of France.

    Travels through the South of France and the Interior of Provinces of Provence and Languedoc in the Years 1807 and 1808

  • The groundwork of the pleasantry is the identity in form of the proper name with the common noun 'will.'

    A Life of William Shakespeare with portraits and facsimiles

  • The form of bicycle he rode long ago became antiquated, but in the humor of his pleasantry is a quality which does not grow old.

    What Is Man? and Other Essays

  • In fact, the good squire was a little too apt to indulge that kind of pleasantry which is generally called rhodomontade: but which may, with as much propriety, be expressed by a much shorter word; and perhaps we too often supply the use of this little monosyllable by others; since very much of what frequently passes in the world for wit and humour, should, in the strictest purity of language, receive that short appellation, which, in conformity to the well-bred laws of custom, I here suppress.

    The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling

  • In fact, the good squire was a little too apt to indulge that kind of pleasantry which is generally called rhodomontade: but which may, with as much propriety, be expressed by a much shorter word; and perhaps we too often supply the use of this little monosyllable by others; since very much of what frequently passes in the world for wit and humour, should, in the strictest purity of language, receive that short appellation, which, in conformity to the wellbred laws of custom, I here suppress.

    XI. The Narrow Escape of Molly Seagrim. Book IV

  • He says the most sublime things without effort and he often finishes them by a turn of pleasantry which is neither misplaced nor far-fetched.

    A Philosophical Dictionary

  • To shew how little account was made of James's negotiations abroad, there is a pleasantry which is mentioned by all historians, and which, for that reason, shall have place here.

    Archive 2005-09-01

  • Meilhac and Halévy, having made one success, did not further attempt the same kind of pleasantry -- wiser in this than Mr. Gilbert, who seems to find it hard to write anything else.

    Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Vol. XVI., December, 1880.

  • This laugh fell in continually all through dinner like the note of the triangle in a piece of modern French music; and he had at times a kind of pleasantry, rather of manner than of words, with which he started or maintained the merriment.

    The Wrecker

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