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
Full Definition of enfant terrible
plural enfants terribles \same\
1 a : a child whose inopportune remarks cause embarrassment b : a person known for shocking remarks or outrageous behavior
2 : a usually young and successful person who is strikingly unorthodox, innovative, or avant-garde
Examples of enfant terrible in a sentence
<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 of enfant terrible
French, literally, terrifying child
First Known Use: 1851
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