English edit

Etymology edit

witty +‎ -icism; coined in the 1670s by John Dryden, by analogy to criticism.

Pronunciation edit

  • (UK, US) IPA(key): /ˈwɪ.tɪ.sɪz.əm/
  • (file)

Noun edit

witticism (plural witticisms)

  1. a witty remark
    • 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter XVIII, in Francesca Carrara. [], volume III, London: Richard Bentley, [], (successor to Henry Colburn), →OCLC, page 151:
      "Take any shape but that!" is what I always feel tempted to exclaim when dulness attempts a joke; striving to pervert some poor innocent and ill-used word from its lawful meaning till it ceases to have any at all—worrying some unfortunate idea till, like the hunted hare, it is worried to death—dealing in witticisms whose edge has long since been worn off by constant use; and truly to the many, witticisms not only require to be explained, like riddles, but are also like new shoes, which people require to wear many times before they get accustomed to them.
    • 1883, George Eliot, chapter 4, in The Essays of George Eliot:
      Shock of the witticism is a powerful one; while mere fun will have no power over them if it jar on their moral taste.
    • 2015, Hans Rollman, “Freedom of Speech: It’s Complicated”, in PopMatters:
      While the occasional wry witticism seeps through, overall Shipler is painfully conscientious about trying to offer both sides of any debate.

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