bête noire


ˌbet-ˈnwär How to pronounce bête noire (audio)
plural bêtes noires ˌbet-ˈnwär(z) How to pronounce bête noire (audio) ˌbāt- How to pronounce bête noire (audio)
: a person or thing strongly detested or avoided : bugbear
an idiosyncratic driver whose bête noire was the left turnMarylin Bender

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 Wilt Chamberlain, Russell’s friend and lifelong bete noire, tried to slow down the game by taking Russell one-on-one in half-court sets that put the massive, absurdly gifted Wilt square in the post. Corbin Smith, Rolling Stone, 8 Feb. 2023 The food stylist's bete noire turned out to be foam. Clark Collis, EW.com, 3 Oct. 2022 To some Republican participants in the hearing, the whole thing seemed like an opportunity to take easy shots at outlets like Fox News, long a bete noire of the liberal and Democratic establishment. Andy Meek, Forbes, 5 Mar. 2021 Final approval rests with Italian President Sergio Mattarella—a respected figure in Italy’s establishment and another bete noire of the League and 5 Star Movement. WSJ, 11 Feb. 2019 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, 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, 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, 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, 22 Jan. 2018 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'bête noire.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French, literally, black beast

First Known Use

1805, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of bête noire was in 1805

Dictionary Entries Near bête noire

Cite this Entry

“Bête noire.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/b%C3%AAte%20noire. Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition

bête noire

plural bêtes noires ˌbet-nə-ˈwär(z) How to pronounce bête noire (audio) ˌbāt- How to pronounce bête noire (audio)
: a person or thing strongly disliked or feared
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