Wednesday, June 3, 2009

L’esprit de l’escalier'esprit_de_l'escalier

L’esprit de l’escalier or esprit d'escalier (stairway wit) is the sense of thinking of a clever comeback in an encounter when it is too late. The phrase can be used to describe a riposte to an insult, or any witty, clever remark that comes to mind too late to be useful—when one is on the “staircase” leaving the scene of the encounter. The phenomenon is usually accompanied by a feeling of regret at having not thought of the riposte when it was most needed or suitable. The French encyclopedist Denis Diderot originally described this situation in his Paradoxe sur le Comédien.

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