Did You Know?
Soi-disant, which in French means literally "saying oneself," is one of hundreds of French terms that entered English in the 18th century, during the period known as the Enlightenment. Even as political antipathies between France and England were being played out on battlefields in Europe and America, English speakers were peppering their speech and writing with French. Soi-disant first began appearing in English texts in the mid-18th century as a disparaging term for someone who styles or fancies himself or herself in some role. Crêpe, vis-à-vis, étiquette, and sang-froid are a few of the other French terms that became naturalized in English at that time.
"It's one of the few soi-disant walking boots we've seen this month that you might be able to, you know, walk in." — The Times (London), 3 Mar. 2010
"The scene was reminiscent of the heyday of the late, great Pasadena Art Museum in the 60s and 70s when an assortment of soi-disant art buffs regularly turned out, in cockamamie get-ups, for exhibition openings." — Patt Diroll, The Pasadena (California) Star-News, 24 Nov. 2014
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