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

Definition of effrontery

: shameless boldness : insolence

Keep scrolling for more

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 In an effrontery to democracy, the Supreme Court just legalized partisan gerrymandering. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Truly end gerrymandering (7/13/19)," 13 July 2019 What wrapped it all together was the insistence that Obama’s effrontery in bypassing Congress was the primary issue. Jonathan Chait, Daily Intelligencer, "Trump’s Immigration Plan Is Obamacare Repeal All Over," 5 Sep. 2017 Others simply denounced Schutz for the effrontery of addressing the subject of black trauma. Richard Cohen, The Mercury News, "Cohen: In praise of cultural appropriation," 5 June 2017 Further, older workers, accustomed to the parental role, may reflexively offer advice to younger bosses who chafe at the effrontery. Joanne Kaufman, New York Times, "When the Boss Is Half Your Age," 17 Mar. 2017 But galled by the effrontery of Venter's challenge, the Human Genome Project scientists closed ranks and ramped up their efforts quickly enough to offer a draft of the genome almost as fast as Celera's nine-month sprint. James Shreeve, WIRED, "Craig Venter’s Epic Voyage to Redefine the Origin of the Species," 1 Aug. 2004

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about effrontery

Listen to Our Podcast about effrontery

Statistics for effrontery

Time Traveler for effrontery

The first known use of effrontery was in 1697

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for effrontery


How to pronounce effrontery (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of effrontery

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on effrontery

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for effrontery

Spanish Central: Translation of effrontery

Nglish: Translation of effrontery for Spanish Speakers

Comments on effrontery

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


to engage in dissolute behavior

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!