Part of speech: noun
Origin: French, 17th century
A witty person.
Examples of Bel-Esprit in a sentence
"My uncle Ken was a bel-esprit whose presence livened up every family party."
"Hoping to absorb enough wit to become a bel-esprit, Laura read the collected works of Dorothy Parker and Oscar Wilde."
“Bel-esprit” comes directly from the French expression which literally means “nice spirit,” but is defined as “fine mind,” or “wit.”
Did you Know?
In the 18th-century, dinner parties could be multi-hour affairs with strict etiquette around conversation, but if one were lucky enough to be seated next to a bel-esprit, then the night was sure to be entertaining. This particular conversationalist was not just clever, but likely had a reputation for witty remarks that every one at the dinner table or party could enjoy and laugh at. A bel-esprit brought such wit, humor, and insight to a conversation that it was considered a privilege — or very good luck — to spend time talking with such a person.