Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An unforeseen event that disrupts the normal course of things; an inopportune occurrence.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An unforeseen, inopportune, or embarrassing event; a hitch
  • n. An ill-timed pass.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. An unexpected and untoward accident; something inopportune or embarrassing; a hitch.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. An unexpected and untoward event; an embarrassing conjuncture; a “hitch.”
  • n. In music, same as syncopation.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an awkward clash

Etymologies

French : contre-, against (from Latin contrā-; see contra-) + temps, time (from Latin tempus).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
French (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The practical political effect of the Clinton contretemps is simple: Meek, already struggling badly for any traction in the race (polling suggests that his support runs in the high teens) looks hapless and hopeless at a time when voters want the exact opposite.

    The Fix's Worst Week in Washington

  • While the Clinton contretemps is absolutely fascinating -- particularly to veteran Clinton watchers like us -- it ultimately will have little effect on the race.

    RGA drops $6.5 million in quartet of governors races

  • Associated Press News analyst Juan Williams All these sentiments strike me as eminently reasonable, but my own view of the contretemps is slightly different.

    The Real Case for Defunding NPR

  • I’ve been trying to puzzle through what to say about the Bush-Putin contretemps over US deployment of missile defense systems in central Europe.

    Matthew Yglesias » Russia and the Missile Shield

  • But by now it's clear to everyone that there was no great PR strategy behind taking the artist / label contretemps public, and that the album's fortunes have been affected in the collateral damage. about what she calls the "supposed feud," insisting that she and her team remain a "tightly knit family" and saying, "A lot has been made in the press about my relationship with Clive.

    Entertainment Weekly's PopWatch

  • Jack Bradley himself has been unavailable for comment, but bank spokesperson Wayne Taylor does concede that the contretemps is a no-win situation for everyone.

    How To Get a Business Loan

  • The French word "contretemps" means, among other things, "a note played against the beat".

    contretemps - French Word-A-Day

  • I would like to experience more 'contretemps' in order to puruse artistic abilities.

    contretemps - French Word-A-Day

  • AUDIO FILE: hear Jean-Marc pronounce the word "contretemps" and the related expressions (please check back later ... having computer mishaps, or "contretemps," this morning!)

    contretemps - French Word-A-Day

  • Martinelli and the Americans went back and forth in a kind of contretemps over the wiretap matter, with the Panamanian president fretting that local authorities failed to benefit from Operation Matador.

    Nikolas Kozloff: WikiLeaks on Panama: Laying Bare the Paranoid, Pro-Corporate Agenda

Comments

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  • An inopportune or embarrassing situation or event; a hitch.

    April 1, 2009

  • As today's Word of the Day on dictionary.com, suggested pronunciation is \KAHN-truh-tahn\.

    I'd rather eat rocks.

    March 31, 2009

  • "An unforeseen event that disrupts the normal course of things; an inopportune occurrence." AHD

    May 7, 2008