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Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English
▪ "Nonsense," retorted Simpson.
▪ "You're not afraid?" Brenda asked. "Of course not," he retorted angrily.
▪ Republicans retorted that the amendment is necessary to balance the budget.
▪ But women retorted that, first, the decision to have children or not was a joint decision with a man.
▪ Not that there was anything to retort.
▪ Well then, retorted her amused audience: you had better find it out hadn't you?
▪ Ellie's angry retort surprised Max.
▪ She's always ready with a quick retort.
▪ She could never think of a clever retort to counter Ben's string of jokes and witticisms.
▪ But at least it warranted a retort.
▪ Damn these clothes, Hope thought; dressed as he was, an irritable retort became a threatening social punishment.
▪ Every time the child makes demands the parent provides a retort and opens up the possibility of more interaction about the demand.
▪ She snapped out careless retorts and soared in brief Puccinian reminiscences with equal ease.
▪ The retort made the boy fold up his clipping pretty quick.
▪ The teacher's demonstration might be countered by the retort that other things besides chalk leave white traces on a blackboard.
▪ You will also need to keep your retort to yourself - even if the person deserves a sharp wood.
The Collaborative International Dictionary

Retort \Re*tort"\, v. i. To return an argument or a charge; to make a severe reply.


Retort \Re*tort"\, n. [See Retort, v. t.]

  1. The return of, or reply to, an argument, charge, censure, incivility, taunt, or witticism; a quick and witty or severe response.

    This is called the retort courteous.

  2. [F. retorte (cf. Sp. retorta), fr. L. retortus, p. p. of retorquere. So named from its bent shape. See Retort, v. t.] (Chem. & the Arts) A vessel in which substances are subjected to distillation or decomposition by heat. It is made of different forms and materials for different uses, as a bulb of glass with a curved beak to enter a receiver for general chemical operations, or a cylinder or semicylinder of cast iron for the manufacture of gas in gas works.

    Tubulated retort (Chem.), a retort having a tubulure for the introduction or removal of the substances which are to be acted upon.

    Syn: Repartee; answer.

    Usage: Retort, Repartee. A retort is a short and pointed reply, turning back on an assailant the arguments, censure, or derision he had thrown out. A repartee is usually a good-natured return to some witty or sportive remark.


Retort \Re*tort"\, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Retorted; p. pr. & vb. n. Retorting.] [L. retortus, p. p. of retorquere; pref. re- re- + torquere to turn twist. See Torsion, and cf. Retort, n., 2.]

  1. To bend or curve back; as, a retorted line.

    With retorted head, pruned themselves as they floated.

  2. To throw back; to reverberate; to reflect.

    As when his virtues, shining upon others, Heat them and they retort that heat again To the first giver.

  3. To return, as an argument, accusation, censure, or incivility; as, to retort the charge of vanity.

    And with retorted scorn his back he turned.

Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1550s, "make return in kind" (especially of an injury), from Old French retort and directly from Latin retortus, past participle of retorquere "turn back, twist back, throw back," from re- "back" (see re-) + torquere "to twist" (see torque (n.)). Applied to exchanges of jest or sarcasm by c.1600, hence "say or utter sharply and aggressively in reply" (1620s). Related: Retorted; retorting.


"act of retorting," c.1600, from retort (v.).


"vessel used in chemistry for distilling or effecting decomposition by the aid of heat," c.1600, from Middle French retorte, from Medieval Latin *retorta "a retort, a vessel with a bent neck," literally "a thing bent or twisted," from past participle stem of Latin retorquere (see retort (v.)).


Etymology 1 n. A sharp or witty reply, or one which turns an argument against its originator; a comeback. vb. To say something sharp or witty in answer to a remark or accusation. Etymology 2

n. 1 (context chemistry English) A flask with a rounded base and a long neck that is bent down and taper, used to heat a liquid for distillation. 2 A container in which material is subjected to high temperature as part of an industrial manufacturing process, especially during the smelt and forge of metal. vb. (cx transitive English) To heat in a retort.

  1. n. a quick reply to a question or remark (especially a witty or critical one); "it brought a sharp rejoinder from the teacher" [syn: rejoinder, return, riposte, replication, comeback, counter]

  2. a vessel where substances are distilled or decomposed by heat

  3. v. answer back [syn: come back, repay, return, riposte, rejoin]

Retort (production company)

Retort is a FremantleMedia UK production company specialising in scripted comedy. It was formed in January 2012 from the Scripted Comedy department of talkbackThames.


In a chemistry laboratory, a retort is a glassware device used for distillation or dry distillation of substances. It consists of a spherical vessel with a long downward-pointing neck. The liquid to be distilled is placed in the vessel and heated. The neck acts as a condenser, allowing the vapors to condense and flow along the neck to a collection vessel placed underneath.

In the chemical industry, a retort is an airtight vessel in which substances are heated for a chemical reaction producing gaseous products to be collected in a collection vessel or for further processing. Such industrial-scale retorts are used in shale oil extraction and the production of charcoal. A process of heating oil shale to produce shale oil, oil shale gas, and spent shale is commonly called retorting.

In the food industry, pressure cookers are often referred to as retorts, meaning " canning retorts", for sterilization under high temperature (116–130 °C).

Retort (collective)

Retort is a community of about forty writers, teachers, artists, and activists, all self-styled opponents of capital and empire, which has been based for the past two decades in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Retort is a gathering of antinomians. It is not a typical collective; there is no explicit program. Retort is a motley crew - writers, artists, teachers, artisans, scientists, poets - joined in a web of sustaining friendships, who share an antagonism to the present order of things. Retort has been meeting on a regular basis for the last two decades, for the most part to eat and drink together, but also to discuss politics, history, aesthetics, and the terms and tactics of root-and-branch opposition to capital, empire and the various versions of barbarism currently on offer. There is a deep appreciation of old cafes and city taverns, competing with a tendency to favor the open air - rambles, the back country, tidepool picnics, wild swimming. The gathering has produced broadsides and pamphlets for particular occasions, and from time to time they also organize more public events - readings, conviviums, evenings of film, and so forth. There are collaborations of many kinds within the milieu.

The name "Retort" acknowledges that the project is engaged in a wider conversation whose terms and assumptions they reject, and that Retorters stand on ground, rhetorical and otherwise, not of our own choosing. Some feel forced to spend much of the time - far too much - in rebuttals, demurrers, rejoinders. In a word, retorting. The name gestures to an obscure non-sectarian 1940s journal of that title, which at first, (new) Retort thought seriously about reviving. It was edited and published out of a cabin in Bearsville, a hamlet near Woodstock, New York. Retort's printing press had belonged to the eloquent Wobbly agitator Carlo Tresca, before he was assassinated on the streets of Manhattan, perhaps by agents of Benito Mussolini. The journal Retort was anti-statist, anti-militarist and published essays on art, politics and culture. Poetry too - the first issue published the Kenneth Rexroth poem that begins:

"Now in Waldheim where the rain/ Has fallen careless and unthinking/ For all an evil century's youth, / Where now the banks of dark roses lie..."

Retort Press also published Prison Etiquette: The Convict's Compendium of Useful Information

  Prison Etiquette: The Convict's Compendium of Useful Information,

compiled by war resisters, specifically those imprisoned for refusing to collaborate either with the state or with the Anabaptist " peace churches" who had agreed with the US government to self-manage the rural work camps for conscientious objectors. Finally, a retort is like the alchemist's vessel that ferments, distills, transforms. It's fragile, it needs fire, there may be problems with the underlying theory, but there's occasional magic.

Retort's broadsheet Neither Their War Nor Their Peace

  Neither Their War Nor Their Peace,

was produced for distribution at demonstrations against the impending US invasion of Iraq in the spring of 2003. It was later expanded into the book Afflicted Powers: Capital and Spectacle in a New Age of War, written by Iain Boal, T.J. Clark, Joseph Matthews and Michael Watts and published by Verso Books.

The broadsheet "All Quiet On The Eastern Front"

  "All Quiet On The Eastern Front",

was part of Retort's installation at the second Seville Biennial.

Associated members include English geographer Michael Watts, Irish social historian Iain Boal, British art historian T.J. Clark, radical attorney Joseph Matthews, labor historian Cal Winslow, editor Eddie Yuen, economic geographer Richard Walker, art historian Anne Wagner, Victor Serge translator James Brook, microbial ecologist Ignacio Chapela, poet and writer Summer Brenner, Balkan anarchist Andrej Grubačić, and Italian literary scholar Franco Moretti.

Usage examples of "retort".

Or does he not perceive, that these topics are easily retorted, and that Anthropomorphite is an appellation as invidious, and implies as dangerous consequences, as the epithet of Mystic, with which he has honoured us?

The reaction was exothermic, which required that the bottom of the retort be encased in a large tub of cold water to draw off heat.

Their data are so explicable in many cases, and so inconclusive in all, that they quite naturally provoke deeper disbelief and produce telling retorts.

And in this welter of spoiled treasure were the great conjuring books hurled amid the ruin of retorts and aludels of glass and lead and silver, sand-baths, matrasses, spatulae, athanors, and other instruments innumerable of rare design, tossed and broken on the chamber floor.

I ought to have pitied her, but not being of a forbearing nature I retorted by asking if her sister was still alive, a question which made her frown and to which she gave no answer.

The pump drew the hydrogen gas out of the retort and pumped it through the wall into the tank of a propane truck that was parked in the maintenance bay next to the control room.

This is mixed with small coal, and when redistilled gives an enriched dust, and by repeating the process and distilling from cast iron retorts the metal is obtained.

His first instinct was to send a stinging retort back to the woman who had so completely rebuffed him.

He swallowed the exceeding sourness of a retort undelivered, together with the feeling that she beat him in the wrangle by dint of her being an unreasonable wench.

Felicity retorted, her tone hard and filled with unsuppressed dislike.

I Love the Night The Miniature The Retort Lines on a Poet The Bacchanal Twenty Years Ago National Anthem I Love Thee Still Look From Thy Lattice, Love She Loved Him The Suitors St.

The great Beau Brummell would not take this piece of condescension without retort.

Robert sucked his breath in through his teeth and might have delivered a retort if Mary had not come into the hall with a tray of clean glasses for the parlor and greeted her mistress.

Lenore was tempted to retort that she might have been feeling a lot worse if Ashton had not come to her defense that morning.

Hating the planet, the crippled ship that had brought him here, and the fins who were his fellow castaways, he drifted into a poignantly satisfying rehearsal of the scathing retorts he should have said to Keepiru.