I remember this fine word from the GRE exam from a dozen years ago, but I haven’t seen it since, until now, thanks to The Republican War on Science, by my friend and fellow SciBling, Chris Mooney. This book was recently released in the more affordable trade paperback. If you haven’t read this book yet, now is the time (I’ve read it once already in hard-cover, but never reviewed it, so I am going to rectify that oversight in the near future by reviewing this updated paperback).
Contretemps (KON-truh-tahn; Fr. kawntruh-tahn) [Origin: 1675-85; French, equivalent to contre- counter- + temps time (Latin tempus)]
- an inopportune occurrence; an embarrassing mischance: He caused a minor contretemps by knocking over his drink.
- An unforeseen event that disrupts the normal course of things.
Usage: In 2002, a huge contretemps arose over the US Climate Action Report, a State Department document required by the 1992 United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, an international treaty.