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.


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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