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.
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.
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."
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