esprit de l'escalier

[ es-preeduhle-skahl-yey ]
/ ɛsˈpri də lɛˈskɑl yeɪ /

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.

QUIZZES

WHO SAID IT: A QUIZ ON PRESIDENTIAL WIT AND WISDOM

Think you know your presidents? Take this quiz and see if you can match the style, wit, and ideology of these memorable lines to the right POTUS.
Question 1 of 9
“I do believe that the buck stops here, that I cannot rely upon public opinion polls to tell me what is right. I do believe that right makes might and that if I am wrong, 10 angels swearing I was right would make no difference.”

Origin of esprit de l'escalier

First recorded in 1905–10; literally, “wit of the staircase” (i.e., after one has left the gathering)

Words nearby esprit de l'escalier

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020