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  1. sprightliness of spirit or wit; lively intelligence.
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Origin of esprit

1585–95; < French < Latin spīritus spirit
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for esprit


  1. spirit and liveliness, esp in wit
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Word Origin

C16: from French, from Latin spīritus a breathing, spirit 1
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 esprit


1590s, from Middle French esprit "spirit, mind," from Old French espirit, from Latin spiritus "spirit" (see spirit).

For initial e-, see especial. Esprit de corps first recorded 1780. French also has the excellent phrase esprit de l'escalier, literally "spirit of the staircase," defined in OED as, "a retort or remark that occurs to a person after the opportunity to make it has passed." It also has espirit fort, a "strong-minded" person, one independent of current prejudices, especially a freethinker in religion.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper