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Word of the Day
Friday, January 19, 2018

Definitions for enfant terrible

  1. French. an outrageously outspoken or bold person who says and does indiscreet or irresponsible things.
  2. French. an incorrigible child, as one whose behavior is embarrassing.
  3. French. a person whose work, thought, or lifestyle is so unconventional or avant-garde as to appear revolutionary or shocking.

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Citations for enfant terrible
I am the enfant terrible of literature and science. If I cannot, and I know I cannot, get the literary and scientific big-wigs to give me a shilling, I can, and I know I can, heave bricks into the middle of them. Samuel Butler, The Notebooks of Samuel Butler, 1912
In fact, he closely resembled Mrs. Littlejohn's uncle, Jeremy Uprichard, the obstinate and domineering enfant terrible of an otherwise charming and happy family. George Bellairs, Death in the Night Watches, 1946
Origin of enfant terrible
In French enfant terrible means “terrible child,” one whose language and behavior are embarrassing to adults. From the beginning of the appearance of enfant terrible in English in the mid-19th century, the phrase has also referred to adults who embarrass or compromise their party or faction by outrageous speech or behavior, especially artists or other creative people notorious for their unconventional lifestyle.