Main definitions of retort in English

: retort1retort2

retort1

verb

  • 1[reporting verb] Say something in answer to a remark, typically in a sharp, angry, or witty manner:

    [with direct speech] ‘‘No need to be rude,’ retorted Isabel’
    [with clause] ‘he retorted that this was nonsense’
    • ‘Usually a sympathetic listener to her tales of woe, this time I was stung into retorting, ‘How can you say that when every single one of us absolutely adores you?’’
    • ‘When he had pulled out of a film, it was said that he was a victim of stress, but he refuted those claims, retorting that he simply hadn't wanted to do a movie at that point.’
    • ‘If you're not going to look after Fay, someone has to,’ I retorted, aware that my words sounded sharp and not caring.’
    • ‘Trent breathed in deeply, fighting the urge to retort something regrettable.’
    • ‘I'm warning you,’ her brother retorted harshly, growing progressively angrier.’
    • ‘It takes every ounce of self-control that I have to not retort back with a scathing remark about what a fool she is.’
    • ‘‘You could have just told me,’ she retorted, her voice almost angry.’
    • ‘‘No, Mr. Duvall, you don't understand,’ Christian retorted, getting angrier by the minute.’
    • ‘I opened my mouth to retort but couldn't quite come up with anything witty or smart or right.’
    • ‘Quin looked as though he might retort with some snide remark he was sure to regret, so Drake interrupted.’
    • ‘I debated whether to retort with a witty comeback or to not pay attention to him.’
    • ‘Jake was about to retort with a very rude comment when pain flared up through his body, causing him to cry out.’
    • ‘Cora bit her lip as she forced herself to not retort to his last remark.’
    • ‘Without letting him answer or retort she rode back towards the lake.’
    • ‘Patient and genial, Ms. Sandhya took the children into confidence from the very start, retorting with jokes, poetry and the occasional repartee to drive home a point.’
    • ‘Tairo fought back the need to retort, feeling helpless and angry at the same time.’
    • ‘Delilah was about to retort with some witty comeback, but stopped when she saw the soirée waiting outside on the street to greet them.’
    • ‘‘We'll see if you have remembered anything about manners,’ she retorted.’
    • ‘Before Roman could open his mouth to retort, Lenore answered.’
    • ‘Jamie was about to retort the remark made by someone behind Maddie but found her words stuck in her throat as that person slowly came into view.’
    answer, reply, respond, say in response, acknowledge, return, counter, rejoin, riposte, retaliate, hurl back, fling back, snap back
    round on someone, come back
    View synonyms
  • 2archaic [with object] Repay (an insult or injury):

    ‘it was now his time to retort the humiliation’
    • ‘Pipes, though a little disconcerted, far from being disabled by the blow, in a trice retorted the compliment with his truncheon.’
    • ‘This enraged his domestics, who retorted the insult by blows.’
    1. 2.1 Turn (an insult or accusation) back on the person who has issued it:
      ‘he was resolute to retort the charge of treason on his foes’
      • ‘He was relentless on verbal observations about her body, and she had begun to pick up the habit of grinding her teeth in order to save her from retorting an obscenity back at him.’
      • ‘When confronted about Fischer's comments in interviews, Amis retorted with some insults of his own.’
      • ‘It is human nature that if you are insulted by someone, you will retort the insult.’
    2. 2.2 Use (an opponent's argument) against them:
      ‘the answer they make to us may very easily be retorted’
      • ‘Japanese historian Kajimura Hideki, who passed away in 1989, retorted the argument that Dokdo belongs to Japan by suggesting diverse historical articles in his paper released on the Review of Korean Studies.’

noun

  • A sharp, angry, or witty reply:

    ‘she opened her mouth to make a suitably cutting retort’
    • ‘Having a retort ready for the reply I had expected - time for us to get some sleep - I was caught off guard and stared at him.’
    • ‘Just as I expected, Brand was ready with his witty retorts as I swung open the door.’
    • ‘Those who don't smile at Arnold's witty retorts have hearts of true solid granite.’
    • ‘Graham's retorts may have been biting and sharp, but Shamus had no trouble thinking up a comeback with his cool, unconcerned manner.’
    • ‘I bit my tongue to stop the sarcastic retort from leaving my mouth.’
    • ‘Christopher clenched his jaw, fighting back the sharp retort and the wave of agony-driven rage as the carriage lurched to a stop outside the Donovan home.’
    • ‘I opened my mouth to make an angry retort, but Mom said, quietly, ‘Liss, we need to talk.’’
    • ‘She was brilliant, there was no doubt about that, but when it came to escaping from awkward situations, coming up with valid excuses or witty retorts, she was useless.’
    • ‘Andra had to literally bite her tongue to hold back the sharp retort quickly forming there.’
    • ‘He drew away slowly, with no angry retort to throw back at her.’
    • ‘Sydney's eyes narrowed in response and she willed her sharp tongue to spit back a scathing retort.’
    • ‘It was an angry retort, and I tried to control the edge in my voice.’
    • ‘Morgan opened her mouth for a cutting retort, then abruptly closed it again.’
    • ‘Evelyn glared daggers at me, causing whatever sharp retort to vanish on the tip of my tongue.’
    • ‘Cordelia rolled her eyes, but was too tired to give a scathing retort.’
    • ‘Now was not the time to shoot back angry retorts.’
    • ‘Keziah tried to think up a suitably sarcastic retort quickly, but her mind was blank.’
    • ‘Lydia's lips tightened, and she bit back a sharp retort.’
    • ‘Well, for once in my life, I didn't have a clever retort.’
    • ‘Everyone discreetly turned his or her head towards Jordan, ready for the retort, and the angry outburst, but he merely shrugged.’
    answer, reply, response, acknowledgement, return, counter, rejoinder, riposte, sally, retaliation
    comeback
    View synonyms

Origin

Late 15th century (in the sense ‘hurl back an accusation or insult’): from Latin retort- twisted back, cast back, from the verb retorquere, from re- in return + torquere to twist.

Pronunciation:

retort

/rɪˈtɔːt/

Main definitions of retort in English

: retort1retort2

retort2

noun

  • 1A container or furnace for carrying out a chemical process on a large or industrial scale:

    ‘since the 1700s, gas was made by baking coal in airtight retorts’
    • ‘The smelters will require 25000 tons of charcoal per annum which will be produced in retorts supplied by the Belgium company, Lambiotte.’
    • ‘In the factory there were a number of iron retorts, and with them several tons of pitch were also distilled.’
    • ‘Ore has been processed in large retorts in the past, but most recent operations use several types of furnaces.’
    1. 1.1historical A glass container with a long neck, used in distilling liquids and other chemical operations:
      ‘a laboratory full of bubbling retorts and crackling electrical equipment’
      • ‘Retorts are the most employed of any kind of distilling vessels in the practice of modern chemistry, having in England almost superseded the use of all others.’
      • ‘The first experiments with the caustic potash purification had been conducted in glass retorts, but they were less successful when scaled up.’

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • Heat in a retort in order to separate or purify:

    ‘the raw shale is retorted at four crude oil works’
    • ‘The in situ process may not require mine workings or large surface plant facilities to crush and retort the shale, and it avoids the necessity of removing overburden and waste shale to dumps with its consequent environmental problems.’
    • ‘The furnace which was used to retort the ore was previously taken off location so little or no above ground structures were left.’

Origin

Early 17th century: from French retorte, from medieval Latin retorta, feminine past participle of retorquere twist back (with reference to the long recurved neck of the laboratory container).

Pronunciation:

retort

/rɪˈtɔːt/