Wit, humor, irony, sarcasm, satire, repartee are comparable when they denote a mode of expression which has for its aim the arousing of sudden sharp interest that is accompanied by amusement or laughter or a quality of mind which leads or predisposes to such expression.
Wit which can denote reasoning power or mental capacity more typically implies intellectual brilliance and quickness in perception combined with the talent for expressing one’s ideas in a sparkling effective manner; in this sense wit need not imply the evocation of laughter, but it suggests a delighting and entertaining.
Sometimes the implication of a power to evoke laughter or smiles becomes prominent and the term without any loss of its earlier suggestions of mental acuteness and swift perception, especially of the incongruous, adds notions of verbal felicity, especially as shown in the expression’s unexpectedness of turn and aptness of application.
Humor is often contrasted with wit , especially as one of two similar yet strikingly different modes of expression in literature. Humor may designate the peculiar disposition that leads one to perceive the ludicrous, the comical, or the ridiculous, and to express one’s perceptions so as to make others see or feel the same thing or it may imply more human sympathy, more tolerance, more kindliness than wit , a deeper sense of the inherent incongruities in human nature and human life, and a feeling for the not readily perceived pathos as well as for the not readily perceived absurdness of characters, of situations, or of consequences.
Irony applies chiefly to a way of speaking or writing in which the meaning intended is contrary to that seemingly expressed.
In a deeper sense irony applies both to the quality of mind of a person (as a poet, dramatist, or philosopher) who perceives discrepancies in life and in character (as between the appearance and the reality, or between what is promised and what is fulfilled, or between what is attempted and what is accomplished) and to the form of humor or wit which has for its aim the revelation of the mockery implicit in these contradictions.
Sarcasm applies chiefly to a savage, bitter form of humor intended to cut or wound. Sarcasm need not imply the use of verbal irony, sometimes suggesting no more than plain speaking, but it regularly implies as its aim the intent to make the victim an object of ridicule.
Satire primarily designates writing intended to hold up vices or follies (as of a people or an age) for ridicule and reprobation.
Repartee applies chiefly to the power or art of answering quickly, pointedly, skillfully, and with wit or humor or, less often, irony or sarcasm.