- an inopportune occurrence; an embarrassing mischance: He caused a minor contretemps by knocking over his drink.
Origin of contretemps
Examples from the Web for contretemps
That seemed like it was the end of the matter but then new life was breathed into the contretemps on Monday.A Cuomo-Christie Proxy War?
December 3, 2013
The contretemps escalated during a commercial break when Khrushchev was handed a note by one of his advisers.Nikita Khrushchev, Talk Show Guest
November 20, 2010
Carter reveals that Jay made weird, borderline mentorly calls to Kimmel long before the Conan contretemps began.Secrets of the Late Night War
November 8, 2010
But the Web contretemps has had an impact all the same, particularly on the political right.The GOP's Supreme Problem
May 27, 2009
He determined to take no notice of the contretemps, but return boldly to the attack.Masterpieces of Mystery
Not only was there no contretemps, but all went off well and pleasantly.Diary And Notes Of Horace Templeton, Esq.
Charles James Lever
It was an aggravation of annoyance to have her as a witness of these contretemps.The Girls of St. Olave's
A contretemps less likely to occur at the Choctaw Chief, and there stayed they.The Death Shot
I will write all the pleasant things, but for the jokes—the contretemps, no!Pixie O'Shaughnessy
Mrs. George de Horne Vaizey
- an awkward or difficult situation or mishap
- fencing a feint made with the purpose of producing a counterthrust from one's opponent
- a small disagreement that is rather embarrassing
Word Origin and History for contretemps
1680s, "a blunder in fencing," from French contre-temps "motion out of time, unfortunate accident, bad times;" from Latin contra + tempus (see temporal). As a ballet term, from 1706; as "an unfortunate accident," 1802; as "a dispute," from 1961.