Banter – What does “Banter” mean in British slang?

Hello and Welcome back to Slang with me Louisa May Adams. This show will give you the chance to hear, understand the origins and meanings of new slang and to use it immediately! So let’s get started……

Recently one of my students are I were joking with each other about our accents, he was mocking me for my poor accent while speaking Italian, especially when rolling my Rs. I told him that I wasn’t offended for this comment as firstly is it true and secondly because his comment was only banter.

At this moment he turned to me and looked very confused, this word was brand new for him, as it might be for you. So we are going to clear it up today.

Banter is both a noun and verb about talking, both spelt B-A-N-T-E-R.

It simply means a playful and friendly exchange of teasing comments for example as a noun we can say “there was good banter at the party” meaning there was fun conversation.
Or as a verb “the men bantered with each other” the men joked with each other.

It’s traced back to the 17th century in Ireland, where in Gaelic, the word bean BEAN meant woman, so that “banter” means “talk of women.” However when used today it is not focused on gender but general remarks between anyone.

Nowadays banter can be shortened to “bants” B-A-N-T-S and refers to the clever art of using word play including irony or sarcasm in order to make fun of and joke with friends. Banter is used globally, but often associated with London. You can engage in banter with family friends and even fun-natured colleagues.

So start using it today! Start having banter with your friends and family, but make sure not to insult them, it’s a very thin line!

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