L'enfant terrible

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia - View original article

Jump to: navigation, search

L'enfant terrible ("terrible child", also enfant terrible) is a French expression, traditionally referring to a child who is terrifyingly candid by saying embarrassing things to adults, especially parents.

However, the expression has drawn multiple usage in careers of art, fashion, music, and other creative arts. In these careers, it implies a successful "genius" who is very unorthodox, striking, and in some cases, offensive, or rebellious. Classically, one who "thumbs their nose" at the establishment, or challenges it.


The Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd edition, gives the definition: "A child who embarrasses his elders by untimely remarks; transf. a person who compromises his associates or his party by unorthodox or ill-considered speech or behaviour; loosely, one who acts unconventionally."

The Webster's Dictionary also defines an enfant terrible as a "usually young and successful person who is strikingly unorthodox, innovative, or avant-garde".

See also[edit]