In a word: sangfroid

March 10, 2014|By John E. McIntyre | The Baltimore Sun

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your vocabulary. This week's word: 


When Agent 007 sails off a cliff, leaps from a tall building, or fights off a dozen thugs without wrinkling his dinner jacket, he displays an enviable sangfroid, a coolness in action, an absence of excitement or agitation. 

The English lifted the word (pronounced sahn-FRWAH) from the French in the seventeenth or eighteenth century: sang, "blood," plus froid, "cold," or "cold-blooded.

Though you may never have an opportunity to drive an Aston Martin off a cliff, you can display your enviable sangfroid when, for example, some vacuous git abuses you in social media. 

Example: From a 2006 article in Outdoor Life: "Whereas our romantic image of an ivory-for-profit hunter is a Stewart Granger–type hero staring down a pair of charging pachyderms with flinty-eyed sangfroid and neatly dispatching each with a right and a left from his Holland double, the real face of professional hunting was hot, dirty and exhausting."

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