l'esprit de l'escalier

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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
References in periodicals archive ?
Maybe in a world where Oprah Winfrey has also flirted with the idea of being Commander-in-Chief of the world's largest military and Kanye West is blathering about making a run too, in a world where the US President is a TV star better known for his Twitter tantrums and alleged corruption than his grasp of policy or law, Kid Rock is just apt l'esprit d'escalier to what is an increasingly hysterical era of world politics.
The next work, two years later, was by French artist Francois Morellet, in which he redesigned the windows set into the elaborate and elegant stonework of the mid-19th century Lefuel Staircase, in a work entitled L'esprit d'escalier. The shifted frames and strange perspectives produce a pleasingly disconcerting effect, a mild Op art applied to an opulent interior.
Even worse, 'l'esprit d'escalier', the voice of that back-of-the-mind pest which keeps tabs on what you say or write and invariably - if belatedly - comes up with something better, had apparently deserted me.
If you go on Crossfire or Nightline or any other of a dozen gab shows, you will infallibly leave the studio with that oppressive sense of what Diderot brilliantly termed l'esprit d'escalier. It is on the way down the staircase that one thinks of the point one really ought to have made.
So, for once, l'esprit d'escalier (literally, the spirit of the staircase), stayed shtum.