I’m looking for ideally a single word that describes with positive connotation a highly empathetic and witty person — the type of person who’s a fantastic conversationalist as a result of these qualities. What describes that person who can masterfully pick up on the subtle nuances of a conversation, and then respond appropriately, empathetically, quickly, and keenly?

After scraping the thesaurus around empathetic, witty, smooth, sharp, sagacious, etc I could not come up with anything that fit the association well.

Empathetic didn’t imply the good-to-talk-to, conversational properties. Witty in the context of conversation brings up thoughts of interesting facts, word puns, and trite remarks without much association with one in tune with the nuances of how the other person is thinking.

As an aside, I feel like this word would be extremely useful to me. Anyone who exemplified in the qualities that this word is trying to convey would be an interesting person to talk to.

  • 3
    Seems to me that there isn't such a word because "empathetic" and "witty" don't necessarily go together. You seem to asking for a word to describe an empathetic Oscar Wilde or a witty Mr Rogers. A vaguer term, "charming", might work.
    – user21497
    Nov 25, 2012 at 7:54
  • 2
    Write an essay, in ten words or fewer ... Nov 25, 2012 at 8:25

11 Answers 11


You are looking for many qualities at the same time that have nothing to do with each other. I suggest simply using conversationalist for someone good at talking to others.

  • 2
    I immediately thought of this, and of the line in Gangs of New York..."We may not be conversationalists, but we're deep thinkers."
    – tylerharms
    Nov 25, 2012 at 12:52

I would call this person simply a wit. I think the term includes all of the things you mentioned.

The Wordnik entry for wit includes these definitions (bold emphasis mine):

n. The natural ability to perceive and understand; intelligence.

n. Keenness and quickness of perception or discernment; ingenuity. Often used in the plural: living by one's wits.

n. Sound mental faculties; sanity: scared out of my wits.

n. The ability to perceive and express in an ingeniously humorous manner the relationship between seemingly incongruous or disparate things.

n. One noted for this ability, especially one skilled in repartee.

n. A person of exceptional intelligence.


The closest word I can think of is warm, which can be used as an adjective to express many emotions close to the ones you mention, particularly empathy. Here is a complilation of meanings taken from three different dictionaries:

warm (adj.) 2 kind and friendly in a way that makes other people feel comfortable : a warm smile 3 marked by strong feeling; ardent 3b marked by excitement, disagreement, or anger : a warm argument 4 marked by or readily showing affection, gratitude, cordiality, or sympathy 5 marked by enthusiasm; ardent: warm support 6 characterized by liveliness, excitement, or disagreement; heated: a warm debate 7 marked by or revealing friendliness or sincerity; cordial: warm greetings

One potential problem you'd have is that a reader or listener might interpret the single word to mean cordial, or empathetic, or strongly emotional, or confrontational in conversation, but not necessarily all of those at once, which is what you want. So, you'd have to be sure that the surrounding context made it abundantly clear than any and all of those nuances of the word could be applied in your single usage.


'Gregarious' and 'convivial' both describe warmly sociable types. I think this is the closest you're gonna get in English, although they don't imply wit as precisely as you want.


A couple of comments have suggested it. I think it deserves it's own answer:

That person has "charm" or is "charming" or maybe even is "a charmer".

You might also be describing someone who is an extrovert.


For some reason this makes me think of charisma, though looking it up it seems it has a far more cynical connotation than how I perceive it.

  • Charming? I think it is usually used positively.
    – Phil H
    Jan 30, 2014 at 9:31

CHARISMATIC... someone with a charismatic personality displays all the characteristics you mention, the combination of all these highly intelligent and quick minded qualities in equilibrium yet able to call upon each at will is someone who we would see to be that aweinspiring energetic person who can flip any frown upside down, who always tells you what you need to hear, no matter how hard it may be to give in to telling you what ypu want to hear.. this is the word you are looking for


Personable? Wit is implied, perhaps.



An expression used to describe a person who has a clever way with words.

Marked by convincing and eloquent expression.


The word you are looking for is Debonair.

(of a man) confident, stylish, and charming. synonyms: suave, urbane, sophisticated, cultured, self-possessed, self-assured, confident, charming, gracious, courteous, gallant, chivalrous, gentlemanly, refined, polished, well bred, genteel, dignified, courtly;

  • Can you add a reference (preferably a URL) of where you got this definition and synonyms? We are pretty serious about properly attributing source material around here. :-)
    – Hellion
    Sep 28, 2017 at 21:47

Suave (Oxford Dictionaries):

(especially of a man) charming, confident, and elegant.

I think that hits all the bases.

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