enfant terrible


noun, plural en·fants ter·ri·bles [ahn-fahn te-ree-bluh] /ɑ̃ fɑ̃ tɛˈri blə/. French.

  1. an incorrigible child, as one whose behavior is embarrassing.
  2. an outrageously outspoken or bold person who says and does indiscreet or irresponsible things.
  3. a person whose work, thought, or lifestyle is so unconventional or avant-garde as to appear revolutionary or shocking.

noun plural enfants terribles (ɑ̃fɑ̃ tɛriblə)

  1. a person given to unconventional conduct or indiscreet remarks
n.

1851, French, literally “terrible child” (see infant + terrible). One whose unorthodox or shocking speech or manners embarrass his associates as a naughty child embarrasses his elders. French also has enfant gâté, “spoiled child,” hence “person given excessive adulation.”

A person who stirs things up in an irresponsible or indiscreet way or has unconventional ideas: “Doctor Hill keeps writing articles that criticize his fellow physicians; he is becoming known as the enfant terrible of his profession.” From French, meaning “terrible child.”

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