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bête noire

[beyt nwahr; French bet nwar] /ˌbeɪt ˈnwɑr; French bɛt ˈnwar/
noun, plural bêtes noires
[beyt nwahrz; French bet nwar] /ˌbeɪt ˈnwɑrz; French bɛt ˈnwar/ (Show IPA)
a person or thing especially disliked or dreaded; bane; bugbear.
Origin of bête noire
1835-45; < French: literally, black beast Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for bete noire
Historical Examples
  • And at these words my post-boy started, and released me from my bete noire.

    Pelham, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • It is a morbid desire to wear the skates on my feet that has always been my bete noire.

    Remarks Bill Nye
  • The weather, being practically the bete noire of our existence, came in for a good deal of abuse.

    The Home of the Blizzard Douglas Mawson
  • It was a solution to her great difficulty, a loophole by which she might get rid of her bete noire, the hated Isabel.

    East Lynne Mrs. Henry Wood
  • Even the winter snows—forever its bete noire—did not discourage him, not for long, at any rate.

  • Bradwood, the rival, the bete noire of the banking-house of Mortimer & Co.

  • At last I lost my bete noire, and found a place close to the door with nothing but a low pile of logs in my front.

    Border and Bastille George A. Lawrence
British Dictionary definitions for bete noire

bête noire

/bɛt nwar/
noun (pl) bêtes noires (bɛt nwar)
a person or thing that one particularly dislikes or dreads
Word Origin
literally: black beast
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for bete noire

"insufferable person," 1844, from French bête noire "personal aversion," as an adjective, "stupid, foolish;" literally "the black beast."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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bete noire in Culture
bête noire [(bet nwahr)]

Something or someone a person views with particular dislike: “The new candidate for governor is the bête noire of all the liberals in the state.” From French, meaning “black beast.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Idioms and Phrases with bete noire

bête noire

A person or thing that is particularly disliked. For example,
Calculus was the bête noire of my freshman courses
. This phrase, French for “black beast,” entered the English language in the early 1800s. For synonyms, see
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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