from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Good-humored, playful, or teasing conversation.
  • intransitive verb To engage in banter.
  • intransitive verb To speak to in a playful or teasing way.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To address good-humored raillery to; attack with jokes or jests; make fun of; rally.
  • To impose upon or cheat, originally in a jesting or bantering way; bamboozle.
  • To challenge; invite to a contest.
  • noun A joking or jesting; good-humored ridicule or raillery; wit or humor; pleasantry.
  • noun A challenge to a match or contest; the match or contest itself.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To address playful good-natured ridicule to, -- the person addressed, or something pertaining to him, being the subject of the jesting; to rally.
  • transitive verb Archaic To jest about; to ridicule in speaking of, as some trait, habit, characteristic, and the like.
  • transitive verb obsolete To delude or trick, -- esp. by way of jest.
  • transitive verb Colloq. Southern and Western U. S. To challenge or defy to a match.
  • noun The act of bantering; joking or jesting; humorous or good-humored raillery; pleasantry.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun Good humoured, playful, typically spontaneous conversation.
  • verb intransitive To engage in banter or playful conversation.
  • verb intransitive To play or do something amusing.
  • verb transitive To tease mildly.

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

  • verb be silly or tease one another
  • noun light teasing repartee


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

[Origin unknown.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

The origin is unknown.


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  • See prang.

    October 27, 2007

  • 'prang' was actual WWII RAF slang, along with a lot of other stuff - the Pythons were just taking the mickey out of it

    October 29, 2007

  • Urfy? Did you know Squiffy?

    October 29, 2007

  • Interesting that the etymology is unknown given that it's not that odd a word.

    January 10, 2014

  • This word was around in 1653, so maybe nobody's sure where it came from before being an English word.

    Google translate has Banter being Banter in the Cebuano and Maltese languages.

    I like the use of Banter and Banterina in the Don Quixote sequel.

    Also, in this Don Quixote book, History of Don Quixote.

    Since the original Quixote books were written in 1605, I think English may have gotten it from Spain/Portugal, and early volumes of Don Quixote.

    January 10, 2014

  • Vaguely plausible given the structure of Romance language verbs. Nice work al.

    January 10, 2014

  • if it had truly Roman roots, I would have expected Google translate to show similar words in French, Spanish, Italian.

    January 10, 2014

  • I think it shows up in the lexicon tetraglotton. 1660.

    January 10, 2014