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.
It was Denis Diderot who, when left dumbfounded by a remark of a fellow dinner guest only to think of a retort after having descended from the party's location on the bel etage to the bottom of the hotel stairway, coined the term l'esprit d'escalier.
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.
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.
Also known as jarns, nittles, and quimp Rasceta The creases on the inside of your wrist L'esprit d'escalier Moment an excellent retort comes to mind but too late for the argument.
So, for once, l'esprit d'escalier (literally, the spirit of the staircase), stayed shtum.