Definition of enfant terrible in English:

enfant terrible


  • A person who behaves in an unconventional or controversial way.

    ‘the enfant terrible of contemporary art’
    • ‘Nonetheless, the enfant terrible was affected deeply by the criticism, writing in his memoirs: ‘This is perhaps the first time it appeared to me that I might be destined to be a second-rate composer.’’
    • ‘I think he is too unassuming, too polite and too well behaved for a champion, and in the era of flamboyant enfants terribles strutting across the tennis courts, he appears to have descended from another planet.’
    • ‘A new management style was called for: some men in suits to replace the enfants terribles.’
    • ‘Though he was just beginning his teaching career, Barth was, at the time, already something of a controversial celebrity, an enfant terrible among European theologians.’
    • ‘She was an enfant terrible who didn't care what people thought.’
    • ‘The 39-year-old looks more like an accountant than the enfant terrible of contemporary Hollywood cinema.’
    • ‘The enfant terrible of the British art scene raised a cool £11m last week by selling off a load of old restaurant fittings.’
    • ‘The American concert pianist and composer made his mark in Paris in the 1920's as a genuine enfant terrible, courting controversy and working hard for his notoriety.’
    • ‘He was an enfant terrible of culinary art, impossibly difficult to work for, fastidious about his creations and possessing a volcanic temper and savage tongue.’
    • ‘I'm getting rather too old to be an enfant terrible!’
    • ‘The Art Gallery of Calgary's Basement Show also runs through August, marking a reunion for this group of artists, who were touted as enfants terribles in 1985 after graduating from Vancouver's Emily Carr Institute.’
    • ‘Instead of treating me as an enfant terrible they nurtured me along.’
    • ‘They were the triumphal enfant terrible of the UK's post-punk, independent music scene.’
    • ‘He made his début as a pianist in 1908, quickly creating something of a sensation as an enfant terrible, unintelligible and ultra-modern - apparently an image he was happy to cultivate.’
    • ‘Smith is the enfant terrible of UK stockbroking - revered and feared in equal measure.’
    • ‘But the enfant terrible of German soccer, who is back in the headlines because of the amorous exploits he describes in his new memoirs ‘I Showed Them All’, is unrepentant.’
    • ‘The best-known works from the end of his career are the texts he wrote for a number of composers ranked among the enfants terribles of the inter-war years.’
    • ‘And what of working with Stone himself, the enfant terrible who seems to thrive on provocation?’
    • ‘This has earned him a reputation in the business press and among policy elites as an enfant terrible inclined to stir up trouble wherever he goes.’
    • ‘The enfant terrible of the symbolist movement, he wrote some of the 19th century's most visionary and influential poetry and prose before abandoning writing at the age of 19.’


French, literally ‘terrible child’.


enfant terrible

/ˌɒ̃fɒ̃ tɛˈriːbl(ə)/