Advanced and Proficiency Vocabulary for Exams(e.g.GRE, Banks, Civil Services, SAT / LSAT). For IELTS/TOEFL, and everyday spoken vocabulary, go to our Spoken Vocabulary Database.
The word ‘contretemps’ generally refers to something that happens in public and is a cause for social embarrassment. There are two kinds of contretemps. Firstly, one that involves a squabble or small disagreement, and secondly, one that expresses an inopportune and awkward situation. In both cases, it can be used humorously as well as seriously. Pronounced ‘contra-tom’.
My holiday in France began with a little contretemps with the police when I drove on the wrong side of the road. I forgot they drive on the right there!
I was told that I had been involved in one or two contretemps at the Christmas party, but I was too drunk to remember anything about them.
Michelle is a perfectionist, so it’s not uncommon for her to have the odd contretemps with her staff, particularly if she feels that they are not pulling their weight.