Definition of bête noire in English:

bête noire

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

nounPlural bêtes noires

  • A person or thing that one particularly dislikes.

    ‘great-uncle Edward was my father's bête noire’
    • ‘Overnight, he became a bête noire, a disreputable demagogue giving the country a bad name abroad.’
    • ‘Mathematics was my bête noire throughout most of my schooldays.’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘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?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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    • ‘But he evades the fact that most of these Northern codes were repealed by the end of the Civil War - and that the ones still on the books were nullified by the 14th Amendment, his bête noire.’
    • ‘‘I don't want to be their bête noire,’ he insists.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Cars were also his bêtes noires: although he owned a car at one time, he never fully mastered the art of driving.’
    • ‘The New York Times has suddenly become the bête noire of conservative columnists on both sides of the Atlantic.’
    • ‘As we'll see, this is the case with Fox, the bête noire of many media concentration activists.’
    • ‘Many of our current bêtes noires are the features we overlook or even admire in other languages.’
    • ‘To this point, we have been having a little innocent fun at the expense of any Anglophone's favourite bêtes noires, the French.’
    • ‘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 bête noire of the anti - 4x4 lobby, Hummers have so far left the United States in only small numbers.’
    • ‘Social obligations are my bêtes noires, necessary evils that I too eagerly create, often enjoy, but nearly always dread.’
    bugbear, pet hate, pet aversion, anathema, abomination, bogey, bugaboo
    View synonyms


French, literally ‘black beast’.


bête noire

/beɪt ˈnwɑː//bɛt ˈnwɑː/