Shoulda Coulda Woulda: French Style

When the first work day of the week comes around, we all know that it can be a tad gloomy, so every Monday I’ll be (hopefully) entertaining you with a weird word or phrase from any language that just might interest you. Hey, it’s a way you can expand your vocab and learning something new!

Today it’s:

It refers to the comebacks or punch lines that occur to you after a conversation. Remember that sour taste in your mouth you’ve surely gotten when you realize “Ugh, that’s what I should have said!” to your ex, teacher, or possible rival? That’s exactly what it refers to. After all, those come backs always pop up 5 minutes too late…

What came to mind the first time I heard this phrase is touché. The French (and many English speakers) use touché when a person has given such a good retort that you have to give them some type of props for it. Of course, at the other end of the scale you have the melancholy and sometimes regretful feeling of l’esprit de l’escalier.

This term was coined by Denis Diderot in Paradoxe sur le Comédien, which was written in the 18th century but wasn’t published until 1830. During that time l’espirit (spirit) wasn’t a reference to a ghost or something spiritual, but it was a reference to someone’s ingenuity or wit. The literal translation would be “staircase wit”. For me, it refers to the physical act of leaving a podium on a stage and then going down some stairs once you’re done. Now, that is definitely the moment that all that  desired witty banter comes to mind, indeed.

Happy Monday to all!


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