Definition of esprit de l'escalier in English:

esprit de l'escalier

Pronunciation /eˌsprē də ˌleskəlˈyā/ /ɛˌspri də ˌlɛskəlˈjeɪ/


  • Used to refer to the fact that a witty remark or retort often comes to mind after the opportunity to make it has passed.

    ‘I am frequently afflicted with esprit de l'escalier.’
    • ‘Now if I'd managed to say all that off the cuff then I would be a genius comedian, but as it was I had to make do with experiencing esprit de l'escalier on the way home.’


French, literally ‘wit of the staircase’ (i.e. a witty remark coming to mind on the stairs leading away from a gathering).