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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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A Word A Day — riposte

Good morning Netizens...

March 23, 2013

Word of the Day

  • riposte
  • audio pronunciation
  • \rih-POHST\


: a fencer's quick return thrust following a parry
: a retaliatory verbal sally : retort
: a retaliatory maneuver or measure

The lifelong friends always greeted each other the same way: John would point out Gary's thinning hair, then Gary would come back with a riposte about John's golf game.

"Modernism, with its strong Gothic influences recalling the glories of medieval Barcelona, was very much a riposte to the conservative architecture that flourished in Madrid at the time." — From an article by Andrew Allen in The New York Times, February 8, 2013


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 Italian "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.

From Merriam-Webster Online at



Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.