Saturday, January 26, 2013


contretemps [ˈkɒntrəˌtɑ̃] n.

1.) An inopportune occurrence; an untoward accident; an unexpected mishap or hitch.
2.) A disagreement or argument; a dispute.
3.) Dancing. A step danced on the unaccented portion of the beat; especially in ballet (Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Edition).

Etymology: French: contre-, against (from Latin contra-) + temps, time (from Latin tempus).

"Next, his delight led him gracefully to execute a hop in ballet fashion, so that the wardrobe trembled and a bottle of eau-de-Cologne came crashing to the floor. Yet even this contretemps did not upset him; he merely called the offending bottle a fool, and then debated whom first he should visit in his attractive guise" (Dead Souls by Nikolai Gogol, D. J. Hogarth (trans.), 1842).

(La Salle de ballet de l’Opéra, rue Le Pelletier, Edgar Degas, 1872)

1 comment:

Debra She Who Seeks said...

Today we might say "dust up."

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