L'enfant terrible

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L'enfant terrible ("terrible child", also enfant terrible) is a French expression, traditionally referring to a child who shocks or embarrasses his parents with his/her comments or behavior by saying startling and/or inappropriate things to adults, especially the kind of indiscreet remarks that embarrasses others.[1][2]

However, the expression has drawn multiple usage in careers of art, fashion, music, and other creative arts. In these careers, it implies a successful "genius" who is very unorthodox. A person who is outrageous or striking, and in some cases, offensive, irresponsible, unconventional, revolutionary or rebellious in his/her works and behaviour. Somebody who is outrageously outspoken or bold. Classically, one who "thumbs their nose" at the establishment, or challenges it.[3]


The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, gives the definition: "A child who embarrasses his elders by untimely remarks; transf. a person who compromises his associates or his party by unorthodox or ill-considered speech or behaviour; loosely, one who acts unconventionally."

The Webster's Dictionary also defines an enfant terrible as a "usually young and successful person who is strikingly unorthodox, innovative, or avant-garde".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "'enfant terrible". /dictionary.reverso.net. Retrieved 2014. 
  2. ^ "enfant%20terrible". www.wordreference.com. Retrieved 2014. 
  3. ^ "enfant terrible". translation.babylon.com. Retrieved 2014.