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Witticism

noun
1.
A message whose ingenuity or verbal skill or incongruity has the power to evoke laughter.  Synonyms: humor, humour, wit, wittiness.






WordNet 3.0 © 2010 Princeton University








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"Witticism" Quotes from Famous Books



... kinships you must be prepared for slight variations in the form of the same key-syllable. Consider these words: wise, wiseacre, wisdom, wizard, witch, wit, unwitting, to wit, outwit, twit, witticism, witness, evidence, providence, invidious, advice, vision, visit, vista, visage, visualize, envisage, invisible, vis-a-vis, visor, revise, supervise, improvise, proviso, provision, view, review, survey, vie, envy, clairvoyance. Perhaps the last six should be disregarded ...
— The Century Vocabulary Builder • Creever & Bachelor

... his dainty flat or his oak-panelled studio in Washington Square, hasten down to Bleecker or Houston Street, there to eat chicken badly braise, fried chuck-steak, and soggy spaghetti, and to drink thin blue wine and chicory-coffee that he might listen to the feast of witticism and flow of soul that he expected to find at the next table. If he found it at all, he lost it at once. If he made the acquaintance of the young men at the next table, he found them to be young men of his own sort—agreeable young boys just from Columbia and Harvard, who were ...
— Jersey Street and Jersey Lane - Urban and Suburban Sketches • H. C. Bunner

... supper. They hain't had nothin' but trash on the road, I guess. Miss Lacey looks kind o' peak-ed;" and so saying, the old man drove on to the barn, his eyes closed tight as he slapped his knee in enjoyment of this second witticism, possibly even better ...
— The Opened Shutters • Clara Louise Burnham

... mania for travelling, which supplies our continental neighbours with such abundant matter for wonderment and witticism, is of no very recent date. Now more than ever, perhaps, does this passion ...
— Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, No. CCCXXIX. - March, 1843, Vol. LIII. • Various

... word whose secret of pronunciation I had been trying to filch for weeks—some delicate little jewel of a word, faint as a perfume, expressive as only a tiny Parisian word can be—and he did so in the politest manner in the world, adding some little witticism which I do not recall. Whereupon I went home ...
— Lippincott's Magazine, Volume 11, No. 26, May, 1873 • Various

... a new or old play, the burning of the two theatres, or an anecdote of John Kemble, and our Actor sparkles amazingly. Put to him an unprofessional question, and you strike him dumb; an abstract truth locks his jaws. On the contrary, listen to the stock-joke; lend an attentive ear to the witticism clubbed by the whole green-room—for there is rarely more than one at a time in circulation—and no man talks faster—none with a deeper delight to himself—none more profound, more knowing. The conversation of our Actor is a fine "piece ...
— The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction - Volume 13, No. 362, Saturday, March 21, 1829 • Various

... speak to the men before their departure. It is said that months before he had been fond of telling humorous stories, and had delighted in making the soldiers laugh. He certainly had a sense of humour, and now and then could not refrain from some witticism which set the highly strung lads in roars of laughter. But the close of his address did not ...
— Tommy • Joseph Hocking

... topic Johnson would always let {149} himself go. Again and again the generous connoisseurship of Boswell describes not only the witticism but the joyous gusto with which it was uttered. On no subject is the great talker's amazing ingeniousness of retort more conspicuous. When Boswell most justly criticized the absurd extravagance of his famous sentence about the death ...
— Dr. Johnson and His Circle • John Bailey

... this melancholy habit of the muses; hence (that I may speak with Secellius) is it that religion is brought into disrepute and contempt, and the priesthood abject; (and since this is so, I must speak out and use a filthy witticism of the filthy) a foetid. crowd, poor, sordid, melancholy, miserable, ...
— The Anatomy of Melancholy • Democritus Junior

... had waited up to receive me, were thrown into an awful flutter. They had never seen the like of Sing, and thought that I was introducing a wolf into the fold. I reassured them as to his dogginess, and the watchman, after studying his black tongue, ventured a witticism. He wanted to know if I fed him on ...
— Dear Enemy • Jean Webster

... a difficulty at first. They insisted on regarding us as a joke, and used to repeat the absurd witticism of the street boys. I heard Janet say "Methusaleers" one day. She denied it, but I am perfectly certain she did not say "Fusiliers," My wife fussed about dry socks and wanted me to take my umbrella on a route march ...
— Our Casualty And Other Stories - 1918 • James Owen Hannay, AKA George A. Birmingham

... that he had to strike another, for I had looked on Mrs. Lascelles at last. It was not an obviously interesting face, like Catherine's, but interest there was of another kind. There was nothing intellectual in the low brow, no enthusiasm for books and pictures in the bold eyes, no witticism waiting on the full lips; but in the curve of those lips and the look from those eyes, as in the deep chin and the carriage of the hooded head, there was something perhaps not lower than intellect in the scale of personal equipment. There was, at all events, character ...
— No Hero • E.W. Hornung

... which they whooped, howled, and also even sand, in a deep-voiced chorus: 'Schmul Leeb Kohn! Schmul Leeb Kohn! Schmul Leeb Kohn!' and made it splendidly audible above the banging of desk-boards and the rest of the roaring cyclone of fiendish noises. [A gallery witticism comes flitting by from mouth to mouth around the great curve: 'The swan-song of Austrian representative government!' You can note its progress by the applausive smiles and nods it gets as ...
— Innocents abroad • Mark Twain

... public capacity was a diplomatic appointment: he afterwards attained to the rank of an ambassador, whose duty it is, according to a witticism of Sir Henry Wotton's 'to lie abroad for the good of his country;' and no man was in this respect more competent to fulfil these requirements than Chesterfield. Hating both wine and tobacco, he had smoked and drunk at Cambridge, 'to be in ...
— The Wits and Beaux of Society - Volume 1 • Grace Wharton and Philip Wharton

... bones behind advisedly, Phillips," said he to the young surgeon, who was smiling still at his own witticism, "because he knew, if he brought them, you would only carve and saw them about as you served those fossils at ...
— Bob Strong's Holidays - Adrift in the Channel • John Conroy Hutcheson

... inclination by teaching him English. The Minister's enemies said that he won the King's heart by taking private lessons from some obscure Briton, and attributing his extraordinary progress to the skill of his royal master. But Decazes had a more effective retort than witticism. He opened the letters of the Ultra-Royalists and laid them before the King. Louis found that these loyal subjects jested upon his infirmities, called him a dupe in the hands of Jacobins, and grumbled at him for so long delaying the happy hour ...
— History of Modern Europe 1792-1878 • C. A. Fyffe

... day, Mr. Codlin pitched the show in a convenient spot, and the spectators were soon in the very triumph of the scene. The child, sitting down with the old man close behind it, was roused from her meditation by a loud laugh at some witticism of Mr. Short. ...
— Ten Girls from Dickens • Kate Dickinson Sweetser

... gained in any other way. Even if readers enjoyed having paragraphs close in this cracking manner, it must be borne in mind that not all conclusions are capable of such a statement, and, what is worse, that the tendency to seek for epigrams leads to untruth and a degenerated form of witticism. Such forced sentences are only half truths, or they are a bit of cheap repartee. Such a close is effective, if the whole truth can be so expressed; but to seek for such sentences is dangerous. The best rule is the one ...
— English: Composition and Literature • W. F. (William Franklin) Webster

... with pockets instinctively buttoned up, and glaring each upon the other with most uncommunicative aspects; not brothers at a banquet, but combatants and wrestlers, watching for solecisms in the other's talk, or toiling to drag in some laboured witticism of their own, after the classical precedent of Hercules and Cerberus: those feasts of reason, how vapid! those flows of soul, how icily congealing! those Attic nights, how dim and dismal! Once more; and, remember me, I speak in a personated character of the general, and not ...
— The Complete Prose Works of Martin Farquhar Tupper • Martin Farquhar Tupper

... a fermata if you wish," retorted the doctor, and the witticism was received with a yell, in the Doric mode. You see Rheinberger had not quite sapped the sense of humor ...
— Old Fogy - His Musical Opinions and Grotesques • James Huneker

... Laughter followed this sharp witticism, and the hours passed quickly on until it was near midnight, when it was suggested that "Old Hundred" be sung, and all joined in the anthem. As the last note died away, the stroke of the clock announced the hour of twelve, and all departed to their houses to sleep, and dream of the ...
— Brook Farm • John Thomas Codman

... occasion of the Chicago opening of Come On In. Everybody had been there and the Crawfords had given a supper dance for her at the Blackstone afterward. And driving in the last nail, she told of the feeble little witticism old Mrs. Crawford had made apropos of her return—a remark whose tinge of malice was so mild that it was felt by all to constitute an official sanction of her ...
— The Real Adventure • Henry Kitchell Webster

... of this, because I have translated both. The famous author of "The Art of Love" has nothing of his own; he borrows all from a greater master in his own profession, and, which is worse, improves nothing which he finds. Nature fails him; and, being forced to his old shift, he has recourse to witticism. This passes, indeed, with his soft admirers, and gives him the preference to Virgil in their esteem; but let them like for themselves, and not prescribe to others, for our author ...
— Discourses on Satire and Epic Poetry • John Dryden

... has given occasion to the witticism that the most beautiful thing in the work is the last note. To this I see no reason to demur; it contains nothing more entrancing than the rise to the fifth of the chord at her ...
— Wagner's Tristan und Isolde • George Ainslie Hight

... Vevey and the Prior of St. Bernard, on the occasion of their present meeting. Peterchen was known to the brotherhood, and, though a Protestant, and one too that did not forbear to deliver his jest or his witticism against Rome and its flock at will, he was sufficiently well esteemed. In all the quetes, or collections of the convent, the well-meaning Bernois had really shown himself a man of bowels, and one that was disposed to favor humanity, even while it helped the cause ...
— The Headsman - The Abbaye des Vignerons • James Fenimore Cooper

... unnecessary existence. "Hardly knew what I was about when I shoved you away from the door. Me and my friend was afraid of missing the train, so we pushed—instinct of self-preservation, I suppose," and he chuckled as if he had got off some witticism. "Anyhow, I apologise. Nothing intentional, 'pon ...
— The Powers and Maxine • Charles Norris Williamson

... that buzzed around me. I think I never laughed so much in my whole life together as I did at that dinner-table. Nearly opposite to me sat the red-haired merchant Wadel, with his long, dryly comical face, firing off one witticism after another, and at my side whispered the hump-backed clerk Gram, who was famed for his cleverness, and feared for his biting tongue. His sharp remarks upon the different people who sat at the table, grew in ill-nature as he drank, and if his words had been ...
— The Visionary - Pictures From Nordland • Jonas Lie

... stout heart. John Wilson Croker was one of her most bitter assailants, and attempted to annihilate her in the Quarterly. She balanced matters by caricaturing him as "Counsellor Crawley" in her next novel, in a way that hit and hurt, and by a witticism which lives, while his envenomed sentences are forgotten. Some one was telling her that Croker was among the crowd who thought they could have managed the battle of Waterloo much better than Wellington, whose ...
— Lippincott's Magazine of Popular Literature and Science, Volume 22. October, 1878. • Various

... At this profound witticism there was a general laugh among the men, in the midst of which the laird repeated his invitation to Ivor, saying that he seemed knocked up after his exertions (which was partially true), and adding that surely he was man enough to take a little ...
— The Eagle Cliff • R.M. Ballantyne

... gleefully over this witticism, which was evidently one which he relied upon for the making of conversation. "How do you do, Captain?" he said, to a man who was passing. "Mr. Montague, let me introduce my friend ...
— The Moneychangers • Upton Sinclair

... looked sharply into his face, uncertain whether he had not missed a clever witticism of his own kind. But O'Malley did not meet his glance. His eyes were far away upon the snowy summit of Olympus where a flock of fleecy clouds hung hovering like the hair ...
— The Centaur • Algernon Blackwood

... of a woman named Dobbs, who was killed in a preaching-house at Nashville, by the fall of a chandelier on her head. Brett's Patent Brandy poet, who would as soon make a witticism on a cracked crown as a cracked bottle, has sent ...
— Punch, or the London Charivari, Volume 1, Complete • Various

... afraid of being answered What do you mean by God? When you fleece you're sorry When you're fleeced you're sick Where Beauty was, nothing ever ran quite straight Whole world was in conspiracy to limit freedom With the wisdom of a long life old Jolyon did not speak Witticism of which he was not the author was hardly to his taste Wonderful finality about a meal You have to ...
— Quotes and Images From The Works of John Galsworthy • John Galsworthy

... fled from lip to lip like a witticism. Waters, stunned by the suddenness of it all, daunted and overwhelmed, turned to move away, to get out of sound and hearing. Forthwith a fresh howl went up. He caught at ...
— Those Who Smiled - And Eleven Other Stories • Perceval Gibbon

... table, this haymaking supper being the annual order of the household. The girl's small delicate head, with its coronal of wild roses, looked strange and incongruous among the rough specimens of manhood about her, and sometimes as the laughter became boisterous, or some bucolic witticism caught her ear, a faint flush coloured the paleness of her cheeks and a little nervous tremor ran through her frame. She drew as closely as she could to the old farmer, who sat rigidly upright and quiet, eating nothing but a morsel of bread with a bowl of hot salted milk Priscilla ...
— Innocent - Her Fancy and His Fact • Marie Corelli

... I erred through levity and want of thought! How many resolutions have I taken at random! how many judgments have I pronounced for the sake of a witticism! how many mischiefs have I not done without any sense of my responsibility! The greater part of men harm one another for the sake of doing something. We laugh at the honor of one, and compromise the ...
— Serge Panine • Georges Ohnet

... anyone in the yard, he slipped in, and at once saw near the gate a sink, such as is often put in yards where there are many workmen or cab-drivers; and on the hoarding above had been scribbled in chalk the time-honoured witticism, "Standing here strictly forbidden." This was all the better, for there would be nothing suspicious about his going in. "Here I could throw it all in a ...
— Crime and Punishment • Fyodor Dostoyevsky

... full voices; the savage fellows who covertly watched their comrades' success from the corner of a doorway; the timid ones whom one could not for an empire induce to pass through the gallery where their pictures were hung; the jokers who hid the bitter mortification of their defeat under an amusing witticism; the sincere ones who were absorbed in contemplation, trying to understand the various works, and already in fancy distributing the medals. And the painters' families were also there. One charming ...
— His Masterpiece • Emile Zola

... caper or kick most confoundedly, or be as stupid and restive as an old battered post-horse.' Among the many clubs of the time Boswell instituted a jovial society called the Soaping Club which met weekly in a tavern. The motto of the members was 'Every man soap his own beard,' a rather recondite witticism which their founder declares equivalent to the reigning phrase of 'Every man in his humour.' It may be suggested here that in this company of feeble Bacchanalians Boswell had copied the Rabelaisian ...
— James Boswell - Famous Scots Series • William Keith Leask

... feared, presently she rose and went to her room. Myrtle took her place on the sofa. Gilbert Penny vanished with a broad witticism at the well known preference of youth, in certain situations, for its own council. David Forsythe made a wry face at Howat. Caroline gaily laid her arm across her mother's shoulder and propelled her from the ...
— The Three Black Pennys - A Novel • Joseph Hergesheimer

... as bad," and showed them that dedication to James I., in which he holds up to his imitation as a hero whose equal was hardly to be found in history, that very King David whose liberality to the Romish Church provoked James's witticism that "David was a sair saint for the crown." Andrew Melville, so James Melville says, found fault with the style. Buchanan replied that he could do no more for thinking of another thing, which was to die. They then went to Arbuthnot's printing-house, and inspected the history, as far ...
— Health and Education • Charles Kingsley

... "He's comin' couple days before, oop on thee mesa." He picked up the glass, noted that it was empty, placed it down again. "I'm sellin' thot potrillo quick," he went on—"bet you' life! I feed heem couple weeks more mebbe—feed heem beer and soom cheese!" He laughed raucously at the alleged witticism. "Thot's thee preencipal t'ing," he declared, soberly. "You must feed a horse." He said this not as one recommending that a horse be well fed, but as one advising that a horse be given something to eat occasionally. "Si! Thot's thee preencipal t'ing! Then he's makin' a fast goer—bet ...
— Bred of the Desert - A Horse and a Romance • Marcus Horton

... sure. I've no grounds for the faith, but I am sure, I almost know. Nijeradze! Don't clown!" he cried abruptly, growing pale, "I've restrained myself several times already at your fool pranks. I have until now held you as a man of conscience and feeling. One more inappropriate witticism, and I'll change my opinion of you; and know, ...
— Yama (The Pit) • Alexandra Kuprin

... PFEIFER, so as to seize on any favourable opportunity. He laughs at PFEIFER'S little witticism, then steps forward and again addresses him.] I wanted to ask you, sir, if you would perhaps have the great kindness not to take my advance of sixpence off to-day's pay? My missus has been bedridden since February, She can't do a hand's turn for me, an' ...
— The Dramatic Works of Gerhart Hauptmann - Volume I • Gerhart Hauptmann

... fear you will regret your determination to make literature a profession; for your letters informed me that you are poor; and doubtless you remember the witticism concerning the 'republic of letters which contained not a sovereign.' Your friend, Mr. Murray, appreciated the obstacles you are destined to encounter, and I am afraid you will not find life in New York as agreeable as it was under ...
— St. Elmo • Augusta J. Evans

... royal ear.[5] But the merry monarch saw no good reason why the muse of comedy should be compelled to "dwell in decencies for ever," and did not feel at all degraded when enjoying a gross pleasantry, or profane witticism, in company with the mixed mass of a popular audience. The stage, therefore, resumed more than its original licence under his auspices. Most of our early plays, being written in a coarse age, and designed for the amusement of a promiscuous and vulgar audience, were dishonoured ...
— The Dramatic Works of John Dryden Vol. I. - With a Life of the Author • Sir Walter Scott

... Hence old Fuller's racy witticism: "S. Paul's is truly the mother church, having one babe in her body, S. Faith, and another in her ...
— Old St. Paul's Cathedral • William Benham

... upsetting the decent order of the household. I found a frying-pan, for instance, hung on the hook that was designed for the dinner-gong, and the gong inside one of the beds. A complete set of bedroom ware had been arranged on the drawing-room table; and apparently some witticism had been contemplated with a chest of drawers, which had become firmly wedged into the angle of the back staircase. In short, the usual strange feats that characterise ...
— The Psychical Researcher's Tale - The Sceptical Poltergeist - From "The New Decameron", Volume III. • J. D. Beresford

... to be facetious, my friend; that is all right, I appreciate a little witticism myself occasionally. By the way," he continued, evidently determined to get into conversation with Houston, "I suppose you young gentlemen are out here on business, looking for valuable investments in this ...
— The Award of Justice - Told in the Rockies • A. Maynard Barbour

... of the facetious proposal that Sir George should wait for payment of his fees until the tower should fall, which acquired fresh point from the circumstance that all payments were now provided for by Lord Blandamer. The ha-ha-ing which accompanied this witticism palled at length even upon the robust Sir George, and he winced under a dig in the ribs, which an extra glass of port had emboldened the ...
— The Nebuly Coat • John Meade Falkner

... heartily at the small witticism. People whose lives are anything but a joke are usually content with the ...
— The Vultures • Henry Seton Merriman

... discipline had cured the family of Paris; the same year Fleeming was to write, in answer apparently to a question of Frank Scott's, "I could find no national game in France but revolutions"; and the witticism was justified in their experience. On the first possible day they applied for passports, and were advised to take the road to Geneva. It appears it was scarce safe to leave Paris for England. Charles Reade, with keen dramatic ...
— The Works of Robert Louis Stevenson, Volume 9 • Robert Louis Stevenson

... you want a saint, my bonny lass," said the drunken Scotchman, "Andrew is as good as Peter," at which witticism those of the others who understood him laughed, for the ...
— Fair Margaret • H. Rider Haggard

... of 1870, having decided to teach rather than preach, I embarked for Germany to enjoy a year of foreign study. Like Western professors in general (to borrow the witticism of President Eliot) I occupied not so much a chair as a sofa, and felt that I needed enlargement for the ...
— The Last Leaf - Observations, during Seventy-Five Years, of Men and Events in America - and Europe • James Kendall Hosmer

... you'll have to go. The fact is, we should have to higher you before we could hire you;" and the clerk laughed at his witticism. ...
— Ben, the Luggage Boy; - or, Among the Wharves • Horatio Alger

... Sternhold and Hopkins, the co-translators of the Psalms of David into English metre, "mistaking vulgarity for simplicity, they turned into bathos what they found sublime." And Tate and Brady's version, the "Dry Psalter" of "Samuel Oxon's" witticism, was little better. Think of the poetical beauties of the following lines, sung with vigour by a ...
— The Parish Clerk (1907) • Peter Hampson Ditchfield

... asked the King, pointing towards the symbolics. 'I know not,' rejoined Rochester, 'unless it implies that the Citizens of London have laid their heads together, to welcome your Majesty's return!' In commemoration of this witticism, the ram's head is to the Citizens of London a prominent feature of exhibition in ...
— Real Life In London, Volumes I. and II. • Pierce Egan

... on the projecting piece of rock, whilst they fired and blasted the rock below so that it shook again, and the stones about him thundered down. Should one expostulate with him on his fool-hardiness, he would answer with the usual witticism here: "I have ...
— Pictures of Sweden • Hans Christian Andersen

... hiatus in the Journals at the point of Monk's reception and speech in the House; but the speech was printed separately, and is given in the Parl. Hist. III. 1575-7. The original authority for Henry Marten's witticism is, I believe, ...
— The Life of John Milton, Volume 5 (of 7), 1654-1660 • David Masson

... uttering a witticism, but his words were followed by loud guffaws from all sides, ...
— The Crossing • Winston Churchill

... unfolding of the deeper secrets of life. It was a time of swift and pitiless change, of action rather than reflection, of the turning of many separate currents into one headlong stream. "We must, indeed, all hang together," runs Franklin's well-known witticism in Independence Hall, "or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately." Excellently spoken, Doctor! And that homely, cheery, daring sentence gives the keynote of much of the Revolutionary writing that has ...
— The American Spirit in Literature, - A Chronicle of Great Interpreters, Volume 34 in The - Chronicles Of America Series • Bliss Perry

... Geheimrath and personal secretary to his Highness; Madame de Ruth was Oberhofmeisterin—'Dame de Deshonneur,' Wilhelmine called her in private—and the two ladies laughed much at the recollection of this, poor Johanna Elizabetha's solitary witticism. The Sittmann was Dame du Palais, her stepsons were Kammerjunker (equerries) to the Duke. Pages were chosen from among the younger Tuebingen students, and any chance visitor was given a high-sounding title and a sham office. ...
— A German Pompadour - Being the Extraordinary History of Wilhelmine van Graevenitz, - Landhofmeisterin of Wirtemberg • Marie Hay

... the two large canoes came up, and Bryan and his little friend had to undergo a rapid fire of witticism from their surprised and highly-amused comrades. Even Moses was stirred up to say that "Bryan, him do pratty well; he most good 'nuff to ...
— Ungava • R.M. Ballantyne



Words linked to "Witticism" :   subject matter, bite, bon mot, content, gag, joke, sketch, fun, message, mot, jape, jeu d'esprit, laugh, ribaldry, jest, caricature, play, caustic remark, satire, irony, esprit de l'escalier, substance, roaster, topper, repartee, libation, imitation, pungency, impersonation, cartoon, sport, sarcasm



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