1707, in fencing, "a quick thrust made after parrying a lunge," from French riposte, etymologically, "a response," by dissimilation from risposte (17c.), from Italian risposta "a reply," noun use of fem. past participle of rispondere "to respond," from Latin respondere "respond, answer to, promise in return" (see respond). Sense of "sharp retort; quick, sharp reply," is attested by 1865, on the notion of "a counter-stroke." As a verb, by 1851.