idée fixe

play
noun \(ˌ)ē-ˌdā-ˈfēks\

Definition of idée fixe

plural

idées fixes

\(ˌ)ē-ˌdā-ˈfēks\
  1. :  an idea that dominates one's mind especially for a prolonged period :  obsession

idée fixe was our Word of the Day on 08/22/2008. Hear the podcast!

Examples of idée fixe in a sentence

  1. had this bizarre idée fixe that people were spying on her with electromagnetic waves

Did You Know?

According to The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, the term "idée fixe" was coined by French composer Hector Berlioz in 1830, who used it to describe the principal theme of his Symphonie fantastique. That reference goes on to say that, at about the same time, French novelist Honore de Balzac used "idée fixe" in Gobseck to describe an obsessive idea. By 1836, Balzac's more generalized use of the term had carried over into English, where "idée fixe" was embraced as a clinical and literary term for a persistent preoccupation or delusional idea that dominates a person's mind. Nowadays "idée fixe" is also applied to milder and more pedestrian obsessions.

Origin and Etymology of idée fixe

French, literally, fixed idea


First Known Use: 1836


Learn More about idée fixe


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a person who is a bore or nuisance

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

  • peter-bruegel-tower-of-babel-painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

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

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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