The Art of Repartee

Repartee is language, usually in dialogue, characterized by witty commentary. Books have been written on repartee in conversations by some of the most highly esteemed figures in history. Witty comebacks can be biting or serve as a way for a person to level the playing field in conversation. It is having the quickness to come back with a clever retort, though many of us think of them hours too late.

Here are some golden examples of repartee throughout time:

Lady Astor: “Winston, you’re drunk!”
Winston Churchill: “But I shall be sober in the morning and you, madam, will still be ugly.”
Lady Astor: “Mr. Churchill, if you were my husband, I’d put poison in your tea.”
Winston Churchill: “Madam, if I were your husband, I’d drink it.”

“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.”- William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)
“Poor Faulkner. Does he really think big emotions come from big words?” – Ernest Hemingway (in response)

A reporter speaking to Gandhi: “What do you think of Western Civilization.”
Gandhi’s response: “I think it would be a good idea.”

Lincoln, who was not an attractive man, was accused of being two-faced during a debate. His response: “If I had two faces, do you think I’d be wearing this one?”

Female interviewer: “So, General Cosgrove, what things are you going to teach these young boys when they visit your base?”
General Cosgrove: “We’re going to teach them climbing, canoeing, archery, and shooting.”
Female interviewer: “Shooting! That’s a bit irresponsible, isn’t it?”
General Cosgrove: “I don’t see why, they’ll be properly supervised on the rifle range.”
Female interviewer: “Don’t you admit that this is a terribly dangerous activity to be teaching children?”
General Cosgrove: “I don’t see how. We will be teaching them proper rifle discipline before they even touch a firearm.”
Female interviewer: “But you’re equipping them to become violent killers.”
General Cosgrove: “Well, Ma’am, you’re equipped to be a prostitute, but you’re not one, are you?”

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