ef·​fron·​tery | \ i-ˈfrən-tə-rē How to pronounce effrontery (audio) , e- \
plural effronteries

Definition of effrontery

: shameless boldness : insolence

Choose the Right Synonym for effrontery

temerity, audacity, hardihood, effrontery, nerve, cheek, gall, chutzpah mean conspicuous or flagrant boldness. temerity suggests boldness arising from rashness and contempt of danger. had the temerity to refuse audacity implies a disregard of restraints commonly imposed by convention or prudence. an entrepreneur with audacity and vision hardihood suggests firmness in daring and defiance. admired for her hardihood effrontery implies shameless, insolent disregard of propriety or courtesy. outraged at his effrontery nerve, cheek, gall, and chutzpah are informal equivalents for effrontery. the nerve of that guy has the cheek to call herself a singer had the gall to demand proof the chutzpah needed for a career in show business

Did you know?

To the Romans, the shameless were "without forehead," at least figuratively. Effrontery derives from Latin effrons, a word that combines the prefix ex- (meaning "out" or "without") and frons (meaning "forehead" or "brow"). The Romans never used effrons literally to mean "without forehead," and theorists aren't in full agreement about the connection between the modern meaning of effrontery and the literal senses of its roots. Some explain that frons can also refer to the capacity for blushing, so a person without frons would be "unblushing" or "shameless." Others theorize that since the Romans believed that the brow was the seat of a person's modesty, being without a brow meant being "immodest" or, again, "shameless."

Examples of effrontery in a Sentence

the little squirt had the effrontery to deny eating any cookies, even with the crumbs still on his lips
Recent Examples on the Web What Negro actor at this stage in the world’s history could dare bring to the role the effrontery Olivier does? Armond White, National Review, 20 Oct. 2021 Bergman, who romanced his leading ladies and strip mined his personal demons for material, was hardly the least self-involved of European auteurs, and Hansen-Løve has fittingly responded with her own teasing display of meta-effrontery. Los Angeles Times, 14 Oct. 2021 His crowded, unmasked political rallies were reckless acts of effrontery. Lawrence Wright, The New Yorker, 28 Dec. 2020 The book reaches a pitch of patronizing superiority in the sections about Mr. Akhtar’s father, an award-winning cardiologist who briefly treated Donald Trump and then had the effrontery to vote for his former patient in the 2016 election. Sam Sacks, WSJ, 23 Oct. 2020 The first major payoff, like subsequent depredations, was both complex—involving a thicket of shell corporations and offshore money-laundering entrepôts—and crude, in view of the fraud’s effrontery. Andrew Cockburn, Harper's Magazine, 27 Apr. 2020 The weather in Springfield was gusty and frigid, and most people wore parkas and winter hats, but some of the younger attendees, hopped up on adrenaline and public displays of effrontery, got by with hoodies and track pants. Andrew Marantz, The New Yorker, 9 Apr. 2020 Saul’s effrontery has long driven fastidious souls from galleries, including me years ago. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 10 Feb. 2020 Murphy himself could have been the ambassador to Rudy Ray Moore’s world (his 1980s concert films Raw and Delirious remain favorites among nostalgic young rappers who were emboldened by Murphy’s profanity and effrontery). Armond White, National Review, 8 Nov. 2019

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

1697, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for effrontery

French effronterie, ultimately from Medieval Latin effront-, effrons shameless, from Latin ex- + front-, frons forehead

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The first known use of effrontery was in 1697

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Last Updated

14 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Effrontery.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/effrontery. Accessed 16 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for effrontery



English Language Learners Definition of effrontery

: a very confident attitude or way of behaving that is shocking or rude : nerve

More from Merriam-Webster on effrontery

Nglish: Translation of effrontery for Spanish Speakers


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