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Par excellence

The French loan phrase par excellence, meaning (1) quintessential, (2) excellent, or (3) to a degree of excellence, is both an adjective and an adverb. But unlike standard English adverbs and adjectives, par excellence usually comes after the word it modifies. For example, a great writer is not a par excellence writer but rather a writer par excellence.

Because par excellence has earned a spot in the English language, there’s no need to italicize it in normal use. It’s usually spoken with a French/English hybrid pronunciation, with par pronounced as rhyming with bar, and excellence pronounced in the French manner, excellans.


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Examples

The case study par excellence, Phantom of the Opera, has been rewarding its brave original investors handsomely for 25 years. [Sydney Morning Herald]

Nathan Kensinger, photo-chronicler par excellence of the city’s neglected corners , has just published the last installment of a three-part photo essay on Edgemere in the Rockaways. [NY Times City Room]

Mini-pigs, those celebrity pets par excellence, are being lined up as Europe’s preferred laboratory animals. [The Independent]

He praised Ngubane for his brilliant and versatile mind and said he would always be remembered by many as a mediator par excellence. [Independent Online]

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