con·​tre·​temps | \ ˈkän-trə-ˌtäⁿ How to pronounce contretemps (audio) , kōⁿ-trə-täⁿ How to pronounce contretemps (audio) \
plural contretemps\ ˈkän-​trə-​(ˌ)täⁿ(z) How to pronounce contretemps (audio) \

Definition of contretemps

1 : an inopportune or embarrassing occurrence or situation

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Examples of contretemps in a Sentence

The senator dismissed his disagreement with the President as a minor contretemps. there was a bit of a contretemps over the seating arrangements for the upcoming wedding
Recent Examples on the Web But he was quickly drawn into the domestic contretemps, appearing on Fox News to defend Trump from accusations that his rhetoric had inspired extremists like the Pittsburgh shooter. Washington Post, 16 Mar. 2021 The recent contretemps pitting City Councilor and mayoral candidate Andrea Campbell against the Boston Police Patrolman’s Association generated more heat than light., 6 May 2021 The contretemps comes at potentially challenging time for Peloton. Phil Wahba, Fortune, 19 Apr. 2021 After several stories about the contretemps appeared in the local press, the company reversed course. Katie Jennings, Forbes, 8 Apr. 2021 The contretemps has served as a reminder of the perils facing corporations getting drawn into hot national debates. Phil Wahba, Fortune, 2 Apr. 2021 That truculent comment came in an off-script contretemps that followed the opening remarks that Secretary of State Antony Blinken and White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan exchanged with Chinese officials in Anchorage. Joel Gehrke, Washington Examiner, 19 Mar. 2021 Their conflict has cast arguably the longest shadow over African-American politics and the struggle for racial justice of any contretemps since the one between W.E.B. Du Bois and Booker T. Washington at the turn of the twentieth century. Brandon M. Terry, The New York Review of Books, 23 Feb. 2021 The columnist left the paper, one of about a dozen staff members who quit or were fired during the contretemps. New York Times, 12 Jan. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contretemps.' 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 contretemps

1769, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for contretemps

French, from contre- counter- + temps time, from Latin tempus

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Time Traveler for contretemps

Time Traveler

The first known use of contretemps was in 1769

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Statistics for contretemps

Last Updated

29 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contretemps.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of contretemps

: an unfortunate or embarrassing event, argument, or disagreement

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