to reply to, usually in a sharp or retaliatory way; reply in kind to.
to return (an accusation, epithet, etc.) upon the person uttering it.
to answer (an argument or the like) by another to the contrary.
a severe, incisive, or witty reply, especially one that counters a first speaker's statement, argument, etc.
the act of retorting.
- re·tort·er, noun
Other definitions for retort (2 of 2)
a vessel, commonly a glass bulb with a long neck bent downward, used for distilling or decomposing substances by heat.
a refractory chamber, generally cylindrically shaped, within which some substance, as ore or coal, is heated as part of a smelting or manufacturing process.
an airtight, usually cylindrical vessel of fire clay or iron, used in the destructive distillation chiefly of coal and wood in the manufacture of illuminating gas.
a sterilizer for food cans.
to sterilize food after it is sealed in a container, by steam or other heating methods.
Chemistry. to subject (shale, ore, etc.) to heat and possibly reduced pressure in order to produce fuel oil, metal, etc.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023
How to use retort in a sentence
Last week, The Lancet published a retort from a team led by Temple University biologist Enrico Bucci.How America Could Be Helping COVID Ravage the World | David Axe | May 21, 2021 | The Daily Beast
When the body goes into the retort, the first thing to burn is its cardboard box, or “alternative container” as it’s called on the funeral bill.
My grandfather’s witty retort kept coming to mind this year.Tallying up a year of loss: A lot of pounds, too many loved ones, countless connections | Jerry Brewer | December 27, 2020 | Washington Post
The Ralph retort, a paragon of ethical journalism websites, decided to make crowdsourcing stuff to discredit me into a project.Rage Against GamerGate’s Hate Machine: What I Got For Speaking Up | Arthur Chu | November 17, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
“I want Ebola to leave Liberia, so I can go to school,” came the snappy retort deciphered by locals.
(To which the obvious retort was: the Christ-like thing to do would be to forgive me).Sympathy for the Devils: Scenes From the Social Conservative Collapse | Olivia Nuzzi | June 21, 2014 | THE DAILY BEAST
That remark prompted a sharp retort from Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Here's a Boehner retort to Sean Hannity (via Buzzfeed's Rebecca Berg).
There is nothing like a plaintive retort when your case is utterly indefensible.
In conversing with foreigners, if they speak slightingly of the manners of your country, do not retort rudely, or resentfully.The Ladies' Book of Etiquette, and Manual of Politeness | Florence Hartley
Probably he lays hold of the elements of experience and casts them into a seeming retort of reveries.Repertory Of The Comedie Humaine, Complete, A -- Z | Anatole Cerfberr and Jules Franois Christophe
The whole mass is then transferred to a retort and distilled over a slow fire.A Woman's Journey Round the World | Ida Pfeiffer
"But my rings always make tusks more beautiful," was his retort.Kari the Elephant | Dhan Gopal Mukerji
British Dictionary definitions for retort (1 of 2)
(when tr, takes a clause as object) to utter (something) quickly, sharply, wittily, or angrily, in response
to use (an argument) against its originator; turn the tables by saying (something)
a sharp, angry, or witty reply
an argument used against its originator
- retorter, noun
British Dictionary definitions for retort (2 of 2)
a glass vessel with a round bulb and long tapering neck that is bent down, used esp in a laboratory for distillation
a vessel in which large quantities of material may be heated, esp one used for heating ores in the production of metals or heating coal to produce gas
(tr) to heat in a retort
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
Scientific definitions for retort
A glass laboratory vessel in the shape of a bulb with a long, downward-pointing outlet tube. It is used for distillation or decomposition by heat.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary Copyright © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.