enfant terrible

[ahn-fahn te-ree-bluh]

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.

Nearby words

  1. enescu,
  2. enewetak,
  3. enface,
  4. enfant perdu,
  5. enfant sauvage,
  6. enfeeble,
  7. enfeebled,
  8. enfeoff,
  9. enfetter,
  10. enfever

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

British Dictionary definitions for enfant terrible

enfant terrible

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


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.