noun ef·fron·tery \i-ˈfrən-tə-rē, e-\

Definition of effrontery



  1. :  shameless boldness :  insolence

effrontery was our Word of the Day on 01/13/2017. Hear the podcast!

Examples of effrontery in a sentence

  1. the little squirt had the effrontery to deny eating any cookies, even with the crumbs still on his lips

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."

Origin and Etymology of effrontery

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

First Known Use: 1697

Synonym Discussion of 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.

EFFRONTERY Defined for English Language Learners


noun ef·fron·tery \i-ˈfrən-tə-rē, e-\

Definition of effrontery for English Language Learners

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

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capable of being understood in two ways

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