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bête noire

[beyt nwahr; French bet nwar]
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noun, plural bêtes noires [beyt nwahrz; French bet nwar] /ˌbeɪt ˈnwɑrz; French bɛt ˈnwar/.
  1. a person or thing especially disliked or dreaded; bane; bugbear.
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Origin of bête noire

1835–45; < French: literally, black beast
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

adversaryanathemaantagonistbanebugbearcompetitorcursedevilenemyfoeopponentplaguerivaltrouble

Examples from the Web for bete noire

Historical Examples

  • Mongenod became by bete-noire; I inveighed against him even as I walked the streets.

    The Brotherhood of Consolation

    Honore de Balzac


British Dictionary definitions for bete noire

bête noire

noun plural bêtes noires (bɛt nwar)
  1. a person or thing that one particularly dislikes or dreads
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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

Word Origin and History for bete noire

n.

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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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.”

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The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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 pain in the neck; thorn in one's flesh.

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The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.