You've been there, at some chic party, when the pompous oaf next to you says something like this: "My wife's such a delightful party guest--well-dressed, polite, and always ready with a bon mot." A what? Well, you don't want to look ignorant, so you smile and try to appear as though you know precisely what the fellow meant. And so does everyone else, even though they're probably wondering too! Read on, and this weekend it will be you impressing your friends with some very cool words.
JOIE DE VIVRE (jwa dih VEE-vruh) FRENCH
Definition: A hearty enjoyment of life. Literally, "joy of living."
Usage: Granny has real joie de vivre. She drives a convertible, listens to Caspian, and still skis the slalom course at fifteen off with the best of them.
PERSONA NON GRATA (purr-SOH-nuh nahn GRAH-tuh) LATIN
Definition: Unacceptable or unwelcome.
Usage: Billy has been persona non grata around our house ever since he knocked a baseball through our dining-room window.
FAUX PAS (foe pah) FRENCH
Definition: A social blunder. Usage: Criticizing the boss's daughter was just her first faux pas on the new job.
MENSCH (mentsh) YIDDISH
Definition: A person of honor and integrity; a decent, upright person.
Usage: His grandfather always used to tell him, "Comb your hair, straighten your tie, look people in the eye, be a mensch."
ENFANT TERRIBLE (on-fon teh-REE-bleh) FRENCH
Definition: A difficult child; an unconventional or outspoken person whose behavior dismays or embarrasses others.
Usage: In the author's opinion, John McEnroe, the enfant terrible of the eighties, single-handedly ruined the sport of tennis in America.