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tour de force

[too r duh fawrs, -fohrs; French toor duh fawrs]
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noun, plural tours de force [too rz duh fawrs, -fohrs; French toor duh fawrs] /ˌtʊərz də ˈfɔrs, -ˈfoʊrs; French tur də ˈfɔrs/.
  1. an exceptional achievement by an artist, author, or the like, that is unlikely to be equaled by that person or anyone else; stroke of genius: Herman Melville's Moby Dick was a tour de force.
  2. a particularly adroit maneuver or technique in handling a difficult situation: The way the president got his bill through the Senate was a tour de force.
  3. a feat requiring unusual strength, skill, or ingenuity.
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Origin of tour de force

1795–1805; < French: feat of strength or skill
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for tour de force

Historical Examples

  • It was his wont to open a serial with a tour-de-force of this description.

    The Life Of George Cruikshank, Vol. II. (of II)

    Blanchard Jerrold

  • What a tour-de-force to bring the Normans down upon them by the morning!

  • Poetry ever looks askance at that gipsy-cousin of hers, "Tour-de-force."

  • But this implies no violent or sudden change, such as might excite suspicion of any arbitrary "tour-de-force."

    Suspended Judgments

    John Cowper Powys

  • To the engraver the hair-line is perfectly simple, to the typefounder it is a tour-de-force.


British Dictionary definitions for tour de force

tour de force

noun plural tours de force (tur, English ˈtʊə)
  1. a masterly or brilliant stroke, creation, effect, or accomplishment
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Word Origin

literally: feat of skill or strength
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 tour de force

n.

1802, French, "feat of strength."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

tour de force in Culture

tour de force

[(toor duh fawrs)]

A feat accomplished through great skill and ability: “The speech was a tour de force; it swept the audience off its feet.”

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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.