jeu d'esprit

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

Borrowed from French jeu d'esprit (game of the spirit).

Noun[edit]

jeu d'esprit (plural jeux d'esprit)

  1. A witticism; a witty comment or composition.
    • 1837, Letitia Elizabeth Landon, Ethel Churchill, volume 2, pages 45-46:
      The last jeu d'ésprit circulating among us, is "A Characteristic Catalogue of Pictures." Characteristic enough some of them certainly are! for Mr. Onslow has contributed "A Flower-Piece;" and, if ever man talked poppies and tulips, it is our worthy and flowery speaker. "A Head Unfinished" is by Lord Townshend, of whom his colleague said, "that his brains wanted nothing but ballast!" Mr. Booth obliges us with "A Mist." He ought to be able to paint it most accurately, for he always seems in one.
    • 1988, William Manchester, The Last Lion: Winston Spencer Churchill (volume 2, page 506)
      "There is a jeu d'esprit that Frenchmen tell — though only to one another — of how, when God created the earth, he wanted one perfect place, so he made France. Then, seeing what he had done, he decided he had gone too far, so he made Frenchmen."