Definition of bête noire in English:

bête noire

Pronunciation /beɪt ˈnwɑː//bɛt nwaʀ//bɛt ˈnwɑː/


  • A person or thing that one particularly dislikes.

    ‘great-uncle Edward was my father's bête noire’
    • ‘It's Canada's densest area at 10 times the city average (about 35,000 per square kilometre) and a bête noire for density critics.’
    • ‘Many of our current bêtes noires are the features we overlook or even admire in other languages.’
    • ‘Mathematics was my bête noire throughout most of my schooldays.’
    • ‘Overnight, he became a bête noire, a disreputable demagogue giving the country a bad name abroad.’
    • ‘By what right does an affluent nation of meat-eaters and leather consumers feel free to pick on dirt-poor, conflict-riven and predominately vegetarian Nepal as a bête noire?’
    • ‘The group which he brought together in January 1979 at a Theory Conference provided most of the prominent writers of the democratic movement thereafter, and most of the bêtes noires of the conservative veterans.’
    • ‘But at home, opinion has become more polarised; for many he is a hero, for some he has become a bête noire, a target of hate.’
    • ‘Finally, of course, there's my old bête noire - the mysterious woman behind BT's 1571 answering service. Good heavens, but she's got mean recently, hasn't she?’
    • ‘His cultivated image as an uncouth spokesman for India's rural lower castes has long made him a convenient bête noire for the BJP's core middle-class, upper-caste constituency.’
    • ‘Social obligations are my bêtes noires, necessary evils that I too eagerly create, often enjoy, but nearly always dread.’
    • ‘Cars were also his bêtes noires: although he owned a car at one time, he never fully mastered the art of driving.’
    • ‘As we'll see, this is the case with Fox, the bête noire of many media concentration activists.’
    • ‘The proposed superhospitals have long been the bête noire for the Coalition of Physicians for Social Justice, a non-profit group of doctors advocating for a better public health-care system.’
    • ‘Even as media are available on a scale once unheard of, the industry is also increasingly vulnerable to piracy, the bête noire of today's media honchos.’
    • ‘Fifth, we know that when push comes to shove, all the grand talk about international norms is often just a cover for opposing the global elite's bêtes noires of the moment.’
    • ‘The New York Times has suddenly become the bête noire of conservative columnists on both sides of the Atlantic.’
    • ‘‘I don't want to be their bête noire,’ he insists.’
    • ‘But he evades the fact that most of these Northern codes were repealed by the end of the Civil War - and that the ones still on the books were nullified by the 14th Amendment, his bête noire.’
    • ‘The bête noire of the anti - 4x4 lobby, Hummers have so far left the United States in only small numbers.’
    • ‘To this point, we have been having a little innocent fun at the expense of any Anglophone's favourite bêtes noires, the French.’
    bugbear, pet hate, pet aversion, anathema, abomination, bogey, bugaboo
    View synonyms


French, literally ‘black beast’.


bête noire

/beɪt ˈnwɑː//bɛt ˈnwɑː/