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enfant terrible

[ahn-fahn te-ree-bluh] /ɑ̃ fɑ̃ tɛˈri blə/
noun, plural enfants terribles
[ahn-fahn te-ree-bluh] /ɑ̃ fɑ̃ tɛˈri blə/ (Show IPA).
an incorrigible child, as one whose behavior is embarrassing.
an outrageously outspoken or bold person who says and does indiscreet or irresponsible things.
a person whose work, thought, or lifestyle is so unconventional or avant-garde as to appear revolutionary or shocking. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for enfant terrible
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • On the literary side of things I am, I fear, a Philistine, or enfant terrible.

    Rustic Sounds Francis Darwin
  • She was an enfant terrible, whose friends no one knew, who passed for very wise, and whose lines of intrigue were inscrutable.

    The Secret of the Night Gaston Leroux
  • The argumentative child is scarcely less trying than the enfant terrible.

    Collections and Recollections George William Erskine Russell
  • The youth laughed, but for the sake of 'making a trade' set down his basket and took the 'enfant terrible.'

    Prudy Keeping House

    Sophie May
  • Of him and of his recruits in South Africa, Churchill spoke with the awful frankness of the enfant terrible.

    Real Soldiers of Fortune Richard Harding Davis
  • Wedekind, who to the mtier of the artist joins that of the enfant terrible, strains in this play every nerve to shock.


    Horace Barnett Samuel
  • The enfant terrible is making papa and mamma alike ridiculous by showing us mamma's lover, who is lurking behind the screen.

  • He has always been rather an unknown quantity, and he is regarded by the powers as an enfant terrible.

British Dictionary definitions for enfant terrible

enfant terrible

/ɑ̃fɑ̃ tɛriblə/
noun (pl) enfants terribles (ɑ̃fɑ̃ tɛriblə)
a person given to unconventional conduct or indiscreet remarks
Word Origin
C19: literally: terrible child
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 enfant terrible

1851, French, literally "terrible child" (see infant + terrible). One whose unorthodox or shocking speech or manners embarrass his associates as a naughty child embarrasses his elders. French also has enfant gâté, "spoiled child," hence "person given excessive adulation."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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enfant terrible in Culture
enfant terrible [(ahn-fahn te-ree-bluh)]

A person who stirs things up in an irresponsible or indiscreet way or has unconventional ideas: “Doctor Hill keeps writing articles that criticize his fellow physicians; he is becoming known as the enfant terrible of his profession.” From French, meaning “terrible child.”

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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