REJOINDER: a sharp response to a comment


There are other definitions for this word, rejoinder.  They mostly have legal meanings, as in contracts and depositions.  But the most common use of the word is the one I have chosen, which has to do with conversations which are on the verge of becoming arguments.

A rejoinder is a sharp or critical comment which is “thrown back” at someone who has made a statement which bothers you.   For example:

Comment: President Obama spends too much time on vacation playing golf.

Response: Yes, he should take lessons from President Bush or President Clinton.”

I chose this particular rejoinder as it has been a somewhat common one in the past couple of weeks.

The intent is to defuse the comment that was made and to smother it with an even more cryptic comment, perhaps subtly, but…nevertheless…pointed.

The word rejoinder comes from the Middle French word rejoindre, which meant to answer a legal charge. The meaning of a witty retort developed from the legal meaning.*

Most of us, I suspect, are better at thinking of rejoinders ten minutes after the comment was made.  Our minds just don’t go fast enough to grasp one when the circumstances allow for it.   There is something special about people who are good with rejoinders.  They aren’t necessarily the nicest of people, but they are skilled in this particular act.  They are particularly good at stand-up comedy.

It’s probably better to pay attention to the illustration I have chosen for today’s posting.   It isn’t necessary to be in arguments constantly.  Rejoinders can turn the most innocent of conversations into arguments in no time at all.


Illustration Credit:


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