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 that contretemps was decidedly secondary to Tuesday's main headline: Impeachment. Susan Page, USA TODAY, "Analysis: Articles of impeachment? Sure. Plus a trade deal, an FBI feud, a campaign rally and more," 10 Dec. 2019 At some point, on-court drama will trump off-court contretemps, almost every time. Sean Gregory, Time, "How LeBron James Reignited the NBA-China Conflict Just Days Before Tipoff," 15 Oct. 2019 In one contretemps, Mr. Kraft regarded Scott Carpenter, one of America’s original astronauts, as insubordinate on a Mercury flight and grounded him permanently. Robert D. Mcfadden, New York Times, "Christopher Kraft, NASA’s Face and Voice of Mission Control, Dies at 95," 22 July 2019 And nowhere were these competing demands on display more than in the contretemps with Mr. Biden. Jonathan Martin, New York Times, "Is Cory Booker Too Nice? (And Is That Bad?)," 25 June 2019 That could backfire if the contretemps over Omar and Tlaib is more than a blip. Fox News, "Reporter's Notebook: Spat over scrapped 'Squad' members' Israel visit is tricky politics for both sides," 17 Aug. 2019 And for Ben Penn to receive the same treatment as George Eaton did in the Scruton contretemps: suspension and demotion, amid calls for his outright dismissal. Michael Brendan Dougherty, National Review, "Ben Penn’s Bad-Faith Hit Job on Leif Olson," 3 Sep. 2019 Trump inserted himself into the latest Brexit contretemps, disregarding the long-standing norm of U.S. presidents staying out of democratic allies’ domestic politics. Christina Boyle, Los Angeles Times, "Suspending Parliament to boost Brexit, Britain’s Boris Johnson sparks outrage," 28 Aug. 2019 The next day, Richardson and Cora found themselves in the Cosmopolitan Saloon, where a mutual friend named Dr. Mills, hoping to smooth over the contretemps, introduced them. Gary Kamiya,, "San Francisco love story: A hooker, her gambling man and a hanging," 23 Aug. 2019

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

27 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Contretemps.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 23 January 2020.

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More Definitions for contretemps


How to pronounce contretemps (audio) How to pronounce contretemps (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of contretemps

: an unfortunate or embarrassing event, argument, or disagreement

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with contretemps

Comments on contretemps

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


out of the ordinary or unreasonable

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