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betise (bay-TEEZ) noun, plural betises (bay-TEEZ)

1. Stupidity, foolishness.

2. A foolish remark or action.

[From French bêtise (stupidity, nonsense), from bête (foolish, beast), from Old French beste (beast), from Latin bestia. A related French term is bête noire (literally, black beast), something or someone dreaded or avoided.]

"Public accountability of ministers and senior civil servants has, to put it mildly, been relaxed. If something goes badly wrong, the minister in whose orbit the betise has occurred rarely makes a public apology, let alone resigns."
Europe: What's Wrong With Nepotism, Anyway?, The Economist (London), Mar 20, 1999.

"We say English; they say language arts. There are some resemblances between the two tongues, and `The Expository Mode of Discourse' warns against overdoing the conjunctions - a betise technically known, apparently, as an `on and on' - and tells us that the run-on sentence is still regarded as serious error."
James Gill, When the Jargon is Impenetrable, The Times-Picayune (New Orleans, Louisiana), May 21, 1995.

This week's theme: words from the major source languages of English.


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