Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Riposte

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is riposte. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

A riposte is a clever retort or retaliatory measure. In fencing, it refers specifically to a quick return thrust immediately following a successful defensive action.

// She’s known for having a brilliant riposte to nearly any insult.

RIPOSTE in Context

“As a riposte to the status quo, the studio has created Pendler, a conceptual urban e-bike pitched at commuters, meticulously designed and carefully shaped to be safer, more practical, and better performing that its rivals.” — Jonathan Bell, Wallpaper(wallpaper.com), 21 July 2022

Did You Know?

In the sport of fencing, a riposte is a counterattack made after successfully fending off one’s opponent. English speakers borrowed the name for this particular maneuver from French in the early 1700s, but the French had simply modified the Italian word risposta, which literally means “answer.” Ultimately these words come from the Latin verb respondēre, meaning “to respond.” It seems fitting that riposte has since come full circle to now refer to a quick and witty response performed as a form of retaliation.

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