esprit de l'escalier

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Used to refer to the fact that a witty remark or retort often comes to mind after the opportunity to make it has passed. The (French) phrase means literally ‘wit of the staircase’ (i.e. a witty remark coming to mind on the stairs leading away from a gathering), and was coined by the French philosopher and man of letters Denis Diderot (1713–84).

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