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[teyt-uh-teyt, tet-uh-tet; French te-ta-tet] /ˈteɪt əˈteɪt, ˈtɛt əˈtɛt; French tɛ taˈtɛt/
noun, plural tête-à-têtes French, tête-à-tête.
a private conversation or interview, usually between two people.
Also called vis-à-vis. a sofa shaped like an S so two people are able to converse face to face.
of, between, or for two persons together without others.
(of two persons) together in private:
to sit tête-à-tête.
Origin of tête-à-tête
1690-1700; < French: literally, head to head Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for tete-a-tete
Historical Examples
  • Did she like the hours so spent in tete-a-tete conversation with the handsome young Marchese?

    A Siren Thomas Adolphus Trollope
  • Jewel was not late to lunch, but eating it tete-a-tete with aunt Madge was not to her taste.

    Jewel Clara Louise Burnham
  • It was the first time that the happy couple admitted a third person to their tete-a-tete.

    The Memoires of Casanova, Complete Jacques Casanova de Seingalt
  • She replied that she was looking forward to their tete-a-tete.

    The Longest Journey E. M. Forster
  • The loneliest thing in the world is to be tete-a-tete with one's conscience.

  • He never interrupted a confidence; never marred a tete-a-tete.

    The Daltons, Volume I (of II) Charles James Lever
  • The tete-a-tete travelling had pleased the young people, and on leaving the train they had promised to see each other again.

    Serge Panine, Complete Georges Ohnet
  • But I am afraid, my dear fellow, that I must leave you to a tete-a-tete with Eleanor.

    The Parisians, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • Theodora rejoiced that his hobby had saved her a world of embarrassment, and still more that their tete-a-tete was interrupted.

    Heartsease Charlotte M. Yonge
  • I would rather keep my seat where I happen to be—and continue the tete-a-tete.

    Hedda Gabler Henrik Ibsen
British Dictionary definitions for tete-a-tete


noun (pl) -têtes, -tête
  1. a private conversation between two people
  2. (as modifier): a tête-à-tête conversation
a small sofa for two people, esp one that is S-shaped in plan so that the sitters are almost face to face
intimately; in private
Word Origin
C17: from French, literally: head to head
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for tete-a-tete

"a private meeting," French, tête-à-tête, literally "head-to-head," from Old French teste "head" (see tester (n.2)). The adjective, "privately," is recorded from 1728.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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tete-a-tete in Culture
tête-à-tête [(tayt-uh-tayt)]

An intimate meeting or conversation between two individuals. From French, meaning “head to head.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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