esprit de l'escalier

[es-pree duh le-skahl-yey]

noun French.

a perfect comeback or witty remark that one frustratingly comes up with only when the moment for doing so has passed: Writers, by nature, tend to be people in whom l' esprit de l'escalier is a recurrent experience.

Nearby words

  1. espouse,
  2. espressivo,
  3. espresso,
  4. esprit,
  5. esprit de corps,
  6. espronceda,
  7. espronceda, josé de,
  8. espundia,
  9. espy,
  10. espy, james pollard

Origin of esprit de l'escalier

First recorded in 1905–10; literally, “wit of the staircase” (i.e., after one has left the gathering) Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019