A contretemps is a badly-timed event or an embarrassing situation. Did you see the outfielders run into each other and the shortstop slip and fall in the mud? Don't laugh — we all have our contretemps.

The word contretemps, pronounced "CON-tre-tahn," is French — contre means "against" and temps means "time." A mishap, perhaps caused by bad timing, is one kind of contretemps. Another is an argument or conflict, especially an awkward one. A contretemps can result from a misunderstanding or miscommunication. It's also a term for a blunder in both ballet and fencing.

Definitions of contretemps
  1. noun
    an awkward clash
    “he tried to smooth over his contretemps with the policeman”
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    type of:
    brush, clash, encounter, skirmish
    a minor short-term fight
Word Family

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