Saturday, February 12, 2011

Pièce de résistance

Pièce de résistance

[French : pièce, piece + de, of, with + résistance, staying power, lastingness.]

Noun    1.    piece de resistance - the outstanding item (the prize piece or main exhibit) in a collection

        collector's item, showpiece
        curio, curiosity, oddment, peculiarity, rarity, oddity - something unusual -- perhaps worthy of collecting
       rariora - (plural) rare collector's items

    2.    piece de resistance - the most important dish of a meal

          dish - a particular item of prepared food; "she prepared a special dish for dinner"

Pièce de résistance is a French term (circa 1839), translated into English literally as "piece of resistance", referring to the best part or feature of something (as in a meal), a showpiece, or highlight. It can be thought of as the portion of a creation which defies (i.e. "resists") orthodox or common conventions and practices, thereby making the whole of the creation unique and special. The phrase gives the sense that the referred-to element is the most outstanding, notable, or defining of the collection. For example:

    Even with a diverse movie and television portfolio, Burnett's pièce de résistance will likely forever be The Carol Burnett Show.

Originally, the pièce de résistance was the most substantial dish in a meal, but now the term generally refers to quality, not quantity.

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