enfant terrible

[ ahn-fahn te-ree-bluh ]
/ ɑ̃ fɑ̃ tɛˈri blə /

WATCH NOW: Enfant Terrible: Visual Word of the Day

WATCH NOW: Enfant Terrible: Visual Word of the Day

The term enfant terrible is an example of how words can change in meaning when moving from one language to another.

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noun, plural en·fants ter·ri·bles [ahn-fahn te-ree-bluh] /ɑ̃ fɑ̃ tɛˈri blə/. French.

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.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for enfant terrible

enfant terrible

/ French (ɑ̃fɑ̃ tɛriblə) /

noun plural enfants terribles (ɑ̃fɑ̃ tɛriblə)

a person given to unconventional conduct or indiscreet remarks

Word Origin for enfant terrible

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

Word Origin and History for enfant terrible

enfant terrible


n.

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

Culture definitions for enfant terrible

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 Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.