Contretemps

May 29, 2011

An unexpected event which throws everything into confusion.

The word has been adopted into common usage, originally it was a fencing term meaning an ill timed pass or attack. It’s notable how the words original meaning suggests something happening in the act of attacking, whereas the modern meaning implies an event that is outwith the control of the subject. It shifted from a active-verb to a noun.

 

To me this word falls into a category of words that cannot be used in regular conversation without an explanation preceding/succeeding it’s use. It’s sounds nice which is why I like it, it seems to me to be the opposite of a word like kismet. It’s interesting to look at how uncommon words which mean a sudden downturn in fortunes are, are how rife the opposite of these words are.

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