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contretemps

[ kon-truh-tahn; French kawntruh-tahn ]
/ ˈkɒn trəˌtɑ̃; French kɔ̃trəˈtɑ̃ /
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Definition of contretemps

noun, plural con·tre·temps [kon-truh-tahnz; French kawntruh-tahn]. /ˈkɒn trəˌtɑ̃z; French kɔ̃trəˈtɑ̃/.
an inopportune occurrence; an embarrassing mischance: He caused a minor contretemps by knocking over his drink.
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Origin of contretemps

1675–85; <French, equivalent to contre-counter- + temps time (<Latin tempus); perhaps alteration (by folk etymology) of Middle French contrestant, present participle of contrester to oppose; see contrast
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022

How to use contretemps in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for contretemps

contretemps
/ (ˈkɒntrəˌtɑːn, French kɔ̃trətɑ̃) /

noun plural -temps
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 for contretemps

C17: from French, from contre against + temps time, from Latin tempus
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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