: self-possession or imperturbability especially under strain

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Sangfroid comes from the French term sang-froid, which literally translates as “cold blood.” When describing amphibians and reptiles, cold-blooded means “having a body temperature that is similar to the temperature of the environment,” but to dub a person cold-blooded is to say that the person shows no sympathy or mercy to others. By the mid-1700s, English speakers had been using cold-blooded to describe the ruthless among them for more than a century, but in sangfroid they found a way to put a positive spin on the idea of ice in the veins: they borrowed the French term to describe the quality of someone who keeps their composure under strain—that is, not a “cold fish” or “icicle” but someone who is cool as a cucumber.

Choose the Right Synonym for sangfroid

equanimity, composure, sangfroid mean evenness of mind under stress.

equanimity suggests a habit of mind that is only rarely disturbed under great strain.

accepted her troubles with equanimity

composure implies the controlling of emotional or mental agitation by an effort of will or as a matter of habit.

maintaining his composure even under hostile questioning

sangfroid implies great coolness and steadiness under strain.

handled the situation with professional sangfroid

Examples of sangfroid in a Sentence

He displayed remarkable sangfroid when everyone else was panicking during the crisis. the professional gambler seemed to take both his wins and his losses with remarkable sangfroid
Recent Examples on the Web The executives’ programming strategies belie their sangfroid. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 15 Nov. 2022 But this was Alcaraz’s time to shine, his turn to show off the speed and stamina, the skill and sangfroid, of a champion. Howard Fendrich, Chicago Tribune, 11 Sep. 2022 Much like her mastery of language, Harini puts plenty of work into her onstage sangfroid. Ben Nuckols, ajc, 2 June 2022 Born in Philadelphia and educated at Bennington College, Taylor has excelled at playing characters with a certain sandpapery sangfroid. Los Angeles Times, 23 Mar. 2022 For those of us who have been following United States v. Ghislaine Maxwell, the defendant’s sangfroid didn’t come as much of a surprise. Naomi Fry, The New Yorker, 30 Dec. 2021 Swayman may do so eventually, but so far, he’s been all sangfroid., 16 Oct. 2021 Who has the sangfroid to perfectly frame an assault on armed enemies who are near enough to throw things at? Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, 26 July 2021 The sangfroid that served him then also amassed him hundreds of thousands of subscribers, millions of views, and enough money to quit his police job. Stephen Kearse, The Atlantic, 31 Oct. 2020 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'sangfroid.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French sang-froid, literally, cold blood

First Known Use

1750, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of sangfroid was in 1750


Dictionary Entries Near sangfroid

Cite this Entry

“Sangfroid.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Feb. 2024.

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