phrases, sayings, idioms and expressions at

I"L'enfant terrible"

Posted by Smokey Stover on April 01, 2004

In Reply to: I think you mean "L'enfant terrible" posted by Bruce Kahl on March 31, 2004

: : I believe the phrase 'Infant Terrible' originates from some work of French literature, or so I vaguely remember. The only origin - ha! - I can find on the Internet is to Fantastic Four issue 24. As much as I enjoyed the Fantastic Four, I'm sure the reference is to some place more authoritative. Can anyone help me out?

: "L'enfant terrible"

: I have made a rare appearance at the office today and gotta go to a meeting to take a nap so below is a link to about 2,600 web pages re "L'enfant terrible".

While "enfant terrible" may have been popularized by its appearance in literature, it has been used since 1851 in its original sense--a child who is terrifyingly candid, saying things embarrassing to his parents. It has come to be used in other ways, but the usual meaning nowadays is that given (as no. 2) by the MWOD: " usually young and successful person who is strikingly unorthodox, innovative, or avant-garde." He is embarrassing (or terrifying) principally to the stodgy ones left in the dust. People may disagree about how unorthodox you have to be to be an enfant terrible; Orson Welles was one--or was not, depending on whom you talk to. SS