L’esprit de l’escalier

Diderot coined the term, literally translating to “staircase idea” (Wikipedia suggests “afterwit”). You are having a discussion, your opponent makes a stinging remark, you are unable to suitably respond. You leave the dinner party and as you are coming down the stairs, it comes.

“Esprit d’escalier” is a particular species within the genus of untimely remarks. Other notable instances:

– I wish I’d had the courage to say it when I though of it
– I liked saying it so much I wish the moment would come again
– I wish life would present me with the occasion to say this at least once

In general, this is a space of regret, passive-aggressive ideation, desire to escape oneself and petty vanity. It is also a space where I spend a lot of time.


  1. Sandra Morales

    You’re right! Never thought of it at petty vanity! Thanks four ruining my only source of small victories. Now I have to go back to playing stratego with my 2 years old nephew.

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