Definition of bien pensant in English:

bien pensant

Pronunciation /ˈbyen pänˌsänt/ /ˈbjɛn pɑnˌsɑnt/


  • Right-thinking; orthodox.

    ‘Her blinkered bien pensant attitudinising excluded any consideration of his uncooperative response to such police methods as ‘Come along now, sir, there's a good gentleman ’, when being taken into custody.’
    • ‘The average person has more sense, and more moral awareness, than to want to create this kind of situation - which is good for no one - out of a wish to strike bien pensant attitudes.’
    • ‘He largely takes it for granted that we all know and endorse those standards, and perhaps this assumption is not far wrong for the bien pensant academic audience at which the book is primarily aimed.’
    • ‘But apparently this comes as such a shock to the bien pensant minority who are eternally banging on about the joys of careers.’
    • ‘This is a bien pensant list for, and from, bien pensant readers.’
    • ‘The real reason why he inspires such contempt among bien pensant types is that they cannot bear the thought that he is right.’
    • ‘I think many bien pensant pro-Europeans fall into this category.’
    • ‘There I was, thinking that bien pensant opinion was against a ban.’
    • ‘But the insidious effects of ‘service’ on the human family members employed in middle-class houses clearly worried her, as it worried other bien pensant mistresses.’
    • ‘Increasingly, it is assumed by bien pensant legislators, academics and commentators that national symbols are irrelevant to the modern world, or that the loyalties they embody can be swept away.’
    • ‘It is sometimes hard to tell if he took any joy from his passions; he could be a humorless writer and had an irritating weakness for bien pensant gestures.’
    • ‘The new ‘thrift’ was not a constitutive virtue but the way all bien pensant folks did things.’
    • ‘Does the publication of this article in the paper of record mean global-warming skepticism is officially bien pensant?’
    • ‘The debauching of our youth was a decades-long project, to which trendy educationalists, penal reformers, wet politicians of all parties, social workers and the bien-pensant media equally contributed.’
    • ‘Such views didn't sink her career; she will now be publishing her marriage-happy essays in the bien-pensant journal.’
    • ‘If we are to do so successfully, we must resist the temptation to take refuge in unfounded optimism or a bien-pensant presumption that our enemy is ultimately amenable to reason.’
    • ‘Now this habit, once almost unmentionable in bien-pensant musical circles, seems to be spreading to some of the most august names in the pianists' pantheon.’
    • ‘There have been further-flung instances of such bien-pensant interference.’
    • ‘The play has been garlanded with praise from bien-pensant opinion.’
    conventional, mainstream, conformist, accepted, approved, received, recognized, correct, proper, established, well established, authorized, authoritative, traditional, traditionalist, prevailing, prevalent, common, popular, customary, usual, normal, regular, standard, canonical, doctrinal, unheretical, conservative, unoriginal, derivative


  • A right-thinking or orthodox person.

    ‘Will the bien-pensants of Whitehall, hand in glove as they are with legalisers dressed up as ‘harm reductionists’, ever grasp this?’
    • ‘Furthermore, he has occasionally appalled the Parisian bien-pensants by endorsing the opinions of his heroes.’
    • ‘They're fed up of being on the losing side in the world, of being lectured by all the bien-pensants, too.’
    • ‘In 1940, there was a disposition in high clerical circles and among some bien-pensants to regard the catastrophe of the fall of the country in June 1940 as a judgement upon that regime.’
    • ‘Underlying all this anxiety seems to be a truth that is awkward to articulate among the bien pensant, but well understood.’


French, from bien ‘well’ + pensant, present participle of penser ‘think’.