A teacher has stepped down from his job after his ban on pupils using the word banter in the classroom did not go down well with his superiors (read the story here). He banned the word because he felt it was being used as an excuse for bullying behaviour.
Banter is both a verb and a noun, and the OED says there is uncertainty as to which came first, although thinks it was probably the verb. Its etymology is unknown. The OED definition of banter as a verb is “To make fun of (a person); to hold up to ridicule, ‘roast’; to jest at, rally, ‘chaff.’ Now usually of good-humoured raillery” and the first citation is from 1677. At that period the noun was treated as slang. The OED remarks that “Swift, in the Apology to his Tale of a Tub (1710), says that it ‘was first borrowed from the bullies in White Friars, then fell among the footmen, and at last retired to the pedants’; in Tatler No. 230, he classes it with bamboozle, country put, and kidney, as a word ‘invented by some pretty Fellows’ and ‘now struggling for the Vogue.’” A bully at the time, by the way, was one of the ‘pretty fellows’ mentioned by Swift (see this old post on the word).