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Word of the Day
Sunday, May 25, 2014

Definitions for bel-esprit

  1. a person of great wit or intellect.

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Citations for bel-esprit
She was the most hospitable and jovial of old vestals, and had been a beauty in her day, she said… She was a bel esprit, and a dreadful Radical for those days. William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair: A Novel Without a Hero, 1847-1848
A man of genius will only write a history, or a romance; moral, or poetical essays; but his performances remain with the language, while the reputation of a bel esprit, like some artificial fires, become suddenly extinct. Isaac D'Israeli, An Essay on the Manners and Genius of the Literary Character, 1795
Origin of bel-esprit
Bel-esprit entered English from French in the mid-1600s. Esprit can be traced back to the Latin spiritus meaning "spirit."