March 21, 2007


riposte (ri-post’), n. a sharp, often witty response in speech or action. Also ri-post.
Urdang,Laurence Ed. The New York Times Everyday Reader’s Dictionary of Misunderstood, Misused, Mispronounced Words. New York: Weathervane. MCNCXXII.


1: a fencer’s quick return thrust following a parry
2: a retaliatory verbal sally : RETORT
3: a retaliatory maneuver or measure
riposte verb
[F. mod. of I. risposta, literally, answer, F. respondere to respond, F. L.respondere] (1707)
--Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition 2003.

riposte / retort (sharp reply)

A ‘retort’ is a sharp reply; a ‘reposte’ is a reply that is sharp.
In other words, a ‘retort’ is a quick reply, a 'riposte’ a smart or witty one.
Both the nouns are [can be] used as verbs.
--Room, Adrian. Dictionary of Confusing Words and Meanings. New York: Dorset, 1988.

riposte; ripost. /ri-pohst/ ( = a sharp comeback or swift retort) Riposte is the standard spelling. Ripost is a variant to be avoided.
--Garner, Brian A. A Dictionary of Modern American Usage. New York: Oxford U.P., 1998.

THE WORD IN USE. Source: Angelica Carter. Shaking a Leg: Collected Journalism and Writings. (1998).

When she told him how much she hated being called an old trout, he'd riposte: "The trout is the most beautiful of fish."

THE WORD IN USE Source:: The National Review, Jan 30, 2006

Unable to think of any satisfactory verbal riposte while in a heated argument with a neighbor, Raymond Hugh McNealy of Germantown, Md., resorted to "mooning," which is to say, contemptuously presenting his bared buttocks to his antagonist. The neighbor sought recourse in the law; Mr. McNealy was convicted of indecent exposure; he appealed; and now his conviction victim has been overturned. Or, as Shakespeare said: "The mortal moon hath her eclipse endured." One of Mr. McNealy's attorneys noted more prosaically that the appeals-court ruling should "bring comfort to all beachgoers and plumbers" in the state. Though we are of course aware that standards of civility in America have long been engaged in a race to the bottom, this incident does not seem to us to rise to a level at which the law needs to butt in. While deploring Mr. McNealy's bad manners, we therefore offer qualified approval to the appeals court's affirmation of a citizen's, er, fundamental rights, and its resistance to the opening up of any further cracks in the edifice of American liberty.

A RIPOSTE posted at the Weblog “Parry, Riposte”: Tuesday, May 31, 2005.

The war continues between the Bush administration and Amnesty International.
Cheney: "For Amnesty International to suggest that somehow the United States is a violator of human rights, I frankly just don't take them seriously."

[Reposte from] Amnesty: "He doesn't take torture seriously; he doesn't take the Geneva Convention seriously; he doesn't take due process rights seriously; and he doesn't take international law seriously" either.

Keep in mind:
1. Adrian Room’s assertion that a‘retort’ is a quick reply, a 'riposte’ a smart or witty one." Put another way, retorts are quick but not of necessity witty; ripostes are always witty but not always quick.
2. The most widely used spelling is riposte (with a final e).
3. Riposte can be a noun or a verb.
As noun: "His ironic riposte was “Ooops!”
As verb: "He riposted ironically, “Ooops!”

And this: A good time to hear lively parlays and ripostes is during the guest interviews on Stephen Colbert's "The Colbert Report" (Comedy Central, cable t.v.).


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