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Word of the Day
Monday, July 31, 2006

Definitions for contretemps

  1. an inopportune occurrence; an embarrassing mischance: He caused a minor contretemps by knocking over his drink.

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Citations for contretemps
Pan had been amongst them--not the great god Pan, who has been buried these two thousand years, but the little god Pan, who presides over social contretemps and unsuccessful picnics. E. M. Forster, A Room with a View, 1908
The evening had had its contretemps, its varying curve of success, but as a whole it was a triumph. Arnold Bennett, These Twain, 1915
Origin of contretemps
Contretemps is a loanword from French. Its initial element is the combining form contre- meaning "against," and its second element is the French word meaning "time." It entered English as a fencing term in the late 1600s.