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crème de la crème

Of a person or a thing, the very best of a similar group or type. Literally translated from French as "cream of the cream." This car is the crème de la crème of luxury vehicles. Janet is the crème de la crème of photographers.
See also: crème, DE, la

get up the yard

An exclamation of disbelief, annoyance, disagreement, dismissal, etc., akin in meaning to "get out of here." An Irish expression seemingly unique to Dublin. Primarily heard in Ireland. Ah, here! Would you get up the yard! I'm not spending that much on a bleedin' computer.
See also: get, up, yard


1. An informal, colloquial greeting (a contraction of "how do you do?"). Well hey, Bob, how-d'ye-do? Been a long time since I've seen you around here!
2. An unfortunate, unpleasant, or awkward situation or circumstance; a troublesome or difficult state of affairs. (Often phrased as "a fine how-d'ye-do.") Well that's a fine how-d'ye-do. I'm on the job for just two days and I find out that the company is going bankrupt!

l'esprit de l'escalier

A French phrase meaning "the wit of the staircase"; a perfect witty remark, retort, or rejoinder that occurs to one after the fact or too late to be used. (Also written as "l'esprit d'escalier.") I was on the bus home long after being tongue-lashed by my boss when I thought of the perfect things to say that would take him down a few pegs. Ah, l'esprit de l'escalier!
See also: DE

coup de grâce

An action or event that brings a swift end to suffering or a worsening situation. The phrase is French for "blow of mercy." The samurai delivered a merciful coup de grâce to his mortally wounded enemy. The large class action lawsuit was the coup de grâce that caused the failing company to finally go out of business.
See also: coup, DE, grace

tour de force

An exceptionally masterful performance or achievement, especially in the arts. The director's latest movie is a tour de force of filmmaking. The Olympic gymnast's final routine was a tour de force that earned her a gold medal.
See also: DE, force, tour


To delete a friend from one's network on a social media site. I can't believe he defriended me just because I disagreed with an article he posted.

the pièce de résistance

1. The most outstanding, remarkable, or prized achievement, accomplishment, aspect, event, etc., in a given series or group. Mr. Reynolds has an impressive gallery, but I'm told that his latest sculpture will be the pièce de résistance.
2. The principal or featured dish in a meal; the entreé. And now for the pièce de résistance: paupiettes of black sole, served with asparagus spears and a rich consommé.
See also: DE, piece, resistance

a coup de grâce

an action or event which ends or destroys something that is gradually becoming worse Jane's affair delivered the coup de grâce to her failing marriage.
See also: coup, DE, grace

the crême de la crême

the best people or things in a group or of a particular type (often + of ) The crême de la crême of young designers will be showing their collections at London Fashion Week.
See also: crême, DE, la

de facto

a de facto situation is one which exists or is true although it has not been officially accepted or agreed (always before noun) Edwards has established himself as the de facto leader of the group. (formal)
See also: DE

de rigeur

if something is de rigeur, it is necessary if you want to be thought fashionable or if you want to follow a custom Leather jackets and jeans are still de rigeur for hard rock fans.
See also: DE

de trop

more than is needed or wanted (always after verb) I thought his comments at the meeting were a little de trop.
See also: DE

esprit de corps

feelings of pride and loyalty that are shared by members of a group Companies that involve their employees in planning have the best esprit de corps.
See also: DE, esprit

fin de siècle

typical of or existing at the end of a century, especially the 19th century The fin de siècle despair increased in the last few years of the century. Tanya chose a course in fin de siècle literature.
See also: DE, fin

joie de vivre

a feeling of happiness and enjoyment of life She will be remembered above all for her kindness and her great joie de vivre.
See also: DE

the pièce de résistance

the best or most important thing in a group or series The pièce de résistance of his act was to make a car vanish on stage.
See also: DE, piece, resistance

a tour de force

a performance or achievement which shows a lot of skill and which is admired by a lot of people His performance as Richard III was a brilliant tour de force.
See also: DE, force, tour

droit de seigneur

The supposed right of a nobleman to deflower the bride of any of his serfs on their wedding night. The phrase, which translates as “the lord's right” was also known as “the law / right of the first night.” Despite its widespread appearance in popular culture, reports of the “right” having been exercised are very rare. It was more a representation for or a warning about the power that a feudal lord could exert over his tenants. Mozart's opera, The Marriage of Figaro, involves Count Almaviva's efforts to exercise his right with Figaro's bride, Susanna. The phrase survives as a seldom-used metaphor for unlimited authority over another, such as a boss over an employee, notwithstanding the gender of either party.
See also: DE