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enfant terrible

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noun en·fant ter·ri·ble \äⁿ-fäⁿ-te-ˈrēblə\

Simple Definition of enfant terrible

  • : a young and successful person who is sometimes shocking and does things in a way that is very different from normal

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of enfant terrible

plural

enfants terribles

\same\
  1. 1 a :  a child whose inopportune remarks cause embarrassment b :  a person known for shocking remarks or outrageous behavior

  2. 2 :  a usually young and successful person who is strikingly unorthodox, innovative, or avant-garde

Examples of enfant terrible in a sentence

  1. <an author who reveled in his role as the enfant terrible of American letters>



Did You Know?

Enfant terrible, which literally means "terrifying child" in French, sounds like something that might be uttered by a frazzled babysitter. Indeed, when English speakers first borrowed the term in the mid-19th century, it was used in reference to children - specifically, unpredictable children who blurted out outrageous remarks that embarrassed their elders. By the 1930s, the term had a broader application: an enfant terrible could be anyone - young or old - whose behavior shocked others. Now the term is also often applied to young, successful newcomers who shock or scare old-timers with their new approaches, easy successes, or disregard for tradition.

Origin and Etymology of enfant terrible

French, literally, terrifying child


First Known Use: 1851


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