A rhetorical term for a facetious reply, usually involving a pun or pretended misunderstanding of a word used by the previous speaker. A common device of dramatic dialogue, especially in comedies, it was practised relentlessly by Shakespeare, as in the exchange:
Polonius: I did enact Julius Caesar. I was killed i'th'Capitol. Brutus killed me.
Hamlet: It was a brute part of him to kill so capital a calf there.
See also repartee.