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contretemps

[kon-truh-tahn; French kawntruh-tahn] /ˈkɒn trəˌtɑ̃; French kɔ̃trəˈtɑ̃/
noun, plural contretemps
[kon-truh-tahnz; French kawntruh-tahn] /ˈkɒn trəˌtɑ̃z; French kɔ̃trəˈtɑ̃/ (Show IPA)
1.
an inopportune occurrence; an embarrassing mischance:
He caused a minor contretemps by knocking over his drink.
Origin
1675-1685
1675-85; < French, equivalent to contre- counter- + temps time (< Latin tempus); perhaps alteration (by folk etymology) of Middle French contrestant, present participle of contrester to oppose; see contrast
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for contretemps
  • One of her lingering challenges will be the contretemps over the birds.
  • Over the years large hunks of its blowzy decoration have been removed, leaving it more curiosity than contretemps.
  • There's a contretemps with gangsters and a kidnapping before a happy ending can be realized.
  • That's a lesson that should have emerged clearly from this contretemps.
  • It was not his last contretemps with colonial authorities.
  • He also invents some delightful pictorial arrangements expressing contretemps.
  • That's what this contretemps is about, and that's the problem that needs to be addressed.
British Dictionary definitions for contretemps

contretemps

/ˈkɒntrəˌtɑːn; French kɔ̃trətɑ̃/
noun (pl) -temps
1.
an awkward or difficult situation or mishap
2.
(fencing) a feint made with the purpose of producing a counterthrust from one's opponent
3.
a small disagreement that is rather embarrassing
Word Origin
C17: from French, from contre against + temps time, from Latin tempus
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for contretemps
n.

1680s, "a blunder in fencing," from French contre-temps "motion out of time, unfortunate accident, bad times;" from Latin contra + tempus (see temporal). As a ballet term, from 1706; as "an unfortunate accident," 1802; as "a dispute," from 1961.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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