What do we call the person who comes back with clever replies when someone insults them?

Also what is this ability (personality trait) to cleverly thrash rivals on-the-spot called?


Person A: "I can't bear fools."

Person B: "Apparently, your mother could..."

What should I call Person B in this?

What is the personality trait he possesses that made him comeback so cleverly against the insult?


5 Answers 5


witty (adjective)

wit (noun)

These words describe the ability to make quick, sharp, clever comebacks.

Winston Churchill was famous for his quick and biting wit:

Member of Parliament, Nancy Astor, speaking to Winston Churchill:

If I were your wife I would poison your coffee..


If you were my wife, I would drink it.

Member of Parliament, Bessie Braddock, speaking to Churchill:

Winston, you are drunk, and what’s more you are disgustingly drunk.


My dear, you are ugly, and what’s more, you are disgustingly ugly. But tomorrow I shall be sober and you will still be disgustingly ugly.



Rapier wit is slightly different from witty: there's a (sharp) rapier in mind.

Rapier wit:

ability to deliver witty and cutting remarks

A rapier is a very thin sword with a long, sharp point.


As in: (for a single word)

Person A: "I can't bear fools."

Person B: "Apparently, your mother could!"

Person A: "Ouch ... you are quick."

quick OED

Of a person: mentally agile; prompt to think; of ready wit.


derisive adjective characterized by or expressing derision; contemptuous; mocking: derisive heckling.

Example: The message is derisive—rhabdomyolysis and whatever else might happen to certain people is really for wimps and buffoons only. COOL IT ON THE CROSSFIT: WHAT’S RHABDOMYOLYSIS?|KENT SEPKOWITZ|OCTOBER 11, 2013|DAILY BEAST

wry adjective bitterly or disdainfully ironic or amusing: a wry remark.

Example: But Beard was, as Beard would have put it, "wry," which is the word people like Beard use when they mean funny. DOUG KENNEY: THE ODD COMIC GENIUS BEHIND ‘ANIMAL HOUSE’ AND NATIONAL LAMPOON

sardonic adjective characterized by bitter or scornful derision; mocking; cynical; sneering: a sardonic grin.

Example: Ebert was celebrated for the sardonic wit and democratic writing style he employed in his reviews. ROGER EBERT, 70, HAS DIED: A LOOK AT THE LIFE OF CINEMA’S GREAT APPRECIATOR|MARLOW STERN|APRIL 4, 2013|DAILY BEAST

(source: dictionary.com, thesaurus.com)


In the UK, this is called 'quick-witted'. Refer to this description of comedian Paul Merton:- http://www.therightaddress.co.uk/paul-merton

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