bête noire

\ ˌbet-ˈnwär How to pronounce bête noire (audio) , ˌbāt-\
plural bêtes noires\ ˌbet-​ˈnwär(z) How to pronounce bêtes noires (audio) , ˌbāt-​ How to pronounce bêtes noires (audio) \

Definition of bête noire

: a person or thing strongly detested or avoided : bugbear an idiosyncratic driver whose bête noire was the left turn— Marylin Bender

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Synonyms for bête noire


black beast, bogey (also bogie), bugaboo, bugbear, dread, hobgoblin, ogre

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Examples of bête noire in a Sentence

a politician who is the bête noire of liberal groups doing my own tax return is the bête noire that haunts me every April

Recent Examples on the Web

Much as animosity toward President Donald Trump rouses Democrats, Pelosi is a bete noire for Republicans, who’ve long targeted her as the prototype of a San Francisco liberal. John Mccormick, Bloomberg.com, "Republicans Put Target on Pelosi in Fight to Control Congress," 4 Apr. 2018 Four days after McCarthy's surprise showing, Sen. Robert F. Kennedy of New York - Johnson's bete noire - entered the race for the Democratic nomination. The Washington Post, AL.com, "LBJ left the 1968 presidential race 50 years ago today," 31 Mar. 2018 Anticipating the challenge, Cuomo has been flexing his political muscle and firing warning shots, especially at his bete noire, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio. NBC News, "'Sex and the City' star Cynthia Nixon runs for N.Y. governor, challenging Cuomo," 19 Mar. 2018 The wave of misconduct claims turned the once-ubiquitous producer into the bete noire of Hollywood and prompted many women, and some men, to come forward with their own claims against powerful men in entertainment, media and government. Kim Chatelain, NOLA.com, "Death of Alabama mom, online exhibitionist shocks community: report," 22 Jan. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bête noire.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bête noire

1805, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bête noire

French, literally, black beast

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Dictionary Entries near bête noire

betel nut

betel palm

betel phenol

bête noire




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Time Traveler for bête noire

The first known use of bête noire was in 1805

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More Definitions for bête noire

bête noire


English Language Learners Definition of bête noire

: a person or thing that someone dislikes very much

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Comments on bête noire

What made you want to look up bête noire? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make a temporary encampment

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