Contretemps

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)]

noun plural

  1. an inopportune occurrence; an embarrassing mischance: He caused a minor contretemps by knocking over his drink.
  2. 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.

.

More like this

Here is another fine word from 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,…
This cute word was used in 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…
I have finally gotten back on track with my book reading and daily search for my word-of-the-day. As you might have guessed, I find these words in my regular everyday reading, instead of picking them out of a vocabulary list somewhere. I found this under-used word in the articulate polemic, The…
Even though I know what this word means and I know something of its etymology (I knew its origin was Greek, for example), I chose to share it with you anyway because I like how it looks on the page and how it sounds when spoken. Besides, this word is not used often enough -- perhaps you can help…

Hi Hedwig, Wow and thanks-- I've been using "contretemps" slightly wrong all my life...would have described some of the events with my family this long, out-of-town week as being contretemps, but now guess I have to switch back to just plain "dysfunctional"... :-)
Blessings this bright cold day (6 deg.F. in MN).