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Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day

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Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.

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jeunesse dorée

February 21st, 2015

Episode 114 of 720 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for February 21, 2015 is: jeunesse dorée \zheuh-ness-dor-RAY\ noun : young people of wealth and fashion Examples: It was clear that the magazine was targeting the jeunesse dorée based on its ads for expensive trendy clothes and profiles of the hottest nightspots. "On a walk in Montreal's Little Burgundy neighborhood, the streets were quiet but inside restaurants were buzzing and the city's jeunesse dorée were shoulder-to-stylish-shoulder at gallery openings." Christopher Muther, Boston Globe, October 18, 2014 Did you know? French revolutionary leader Maximilien Robespierre and his allies, the Jacobins, gained many enemies for their role in the Reign of Terror. One of their fiercest opponents was Louis Freron, a former Jacobin who played a key role in overthrowing their government. On July 27, 1794, counter-revolutionaries toppled the Jacobin regime and had Robespierre arrested and executed. In the midst of the chaos that followed, Louis Freron organized gangs of fashionably dressed young toughs to terrorize the remaining Jacobins. French speakers called those stylish young thugs the jeunesse doréeliterally, the "gilded youth." By the time the term jeunesse dorée was adopted into English in the 1830s, it had lost its association with violent street gangs and simply referred to any wealthy young socialites.

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