- (Received Pronunciation) IPA(key): /bɒn məʊ/, /bɒ̃ məʊ/
Audio (UK) (file)
- (General American) IPA(key): /bɑn moʊ/
- A clever saying, phrase or witticism; often, a witty riposte in dialogue.
- 1725, “Phileleutherus Lipsiensis” [pseudonym; Richard Bentley], chapter LII, in Remarks upon a Late Discourse of Free-thinking [by Anthony Collins]: In a Letter to N. N. [...] Part the Second, 6th edition, Cambridge: Printed for Cornelius Crownfield, printer to the University, OCLC 642625143, page 64:
- But ſo it is: our Writer has met with a Bon Mot of this Cato’s; which, according to his ſhallow Underſtanding and ſilly Interpretation, he preſages will ever live as a noble Free-thinking Saying.
- 1768, Mr. Yorick [pseudonym; Laurence Sterne], “The Dwarf. Paris.”, in A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy, volume I, London: Printed for T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, […], OCLC 61680753, page 197:
- ―In England, dear Sir, ſaid I, we ſit all at our eaſe. The old French officer would have ſet me at unity with myſelf, in caſe I had been at variance,—by ſaying it was a bon mot—and as a bon mot is always worth ſomething at Paris, he offered me a pinch of ſnuff.
- 1814, Henry Kett, “Introduction”, in The Flowers of Wit, or A Choice Collection of Bon Mots, both Antient and Modern; with Biographical and Critical Remarks. [...] In Two Volumes, volume I, London: Printed for Lackington, Allen, and Co., […]; at the Weybridge Press, by S. Hamilton, OCLC 2117868, page xvi:
- And if a few of these bon mots so selected be well known, they possess such acknowledged excellence, that the compiler would be justly censured, were he to deprive his readers of the pleasure of seeing them inserted in a work of this kind.
- 1858 September, “Sir Nathaniel”, “Readings in Current Literature. By Sir Nathaniel. [Victor] Cousin’s Key to the ‘Grand Cyrus.’ History of the French Academy.”, in William Harrison Ainsworth, editor, The New Monthly Magazine, volume CXIV, number CCCCLIII, London: Chapman & Hall, […], OCLC 7961902, page 47:
- M. de Pomponne conjures her not to let Mme. Cornuel's bons mots perish, but to keep a register of them. Saint-Simon describes Mme. Cornuel as a "vieille bourgeoise du Marais," who was "full of bons mots, but of bons mots that are apophthegms."
- 2012, Bob and Odette Blaisdell, compilers and editors, “Introduction”, in The Wit and Wisdom of Oscar Wilde, Mineola, N.Y.: Dover Publications, →ISBN, page viii:
- 2016, Emo Gotsbachner, “Asserting Interpretive Frames of Political Events: Panel Discussions on Television News”, in Richard Fitzgerald and William Housley, editors, Media, Policy and Interaction, Abingdon, Oxfordshire; New York, N.Y.: Routledge, →ISBN, pages 56–57:
- Summing up a complex analysis [...] we can say that [Peter] Pilz succeeds in turning Mayr's fierce endeavours of enforcement against himself, and his bonmot about the state of politics during socialist rule becomes widely cited in the next day's press.
clever saying, phrase or witticism
Literally, “good word”.