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In the March 4 issue of TLS a Mr. Brown wrote a letter recalling how when he was an undergraduate at Columbia and Allen Ginsberg came to give a reading, it was in fact the students that heaped scorn upon him, whereas most senior faculty treated him with what they (the students) saw as undue deference. At the end of the letter he writes:

It was a time when American social and cultural totems were falling, something Highet, a pillar of the New York literary establishment, recognized and we young blancbecs did not.

This is the first instance of the word blancbec I've seen in English (it means a kind of arrogant upstart.) I was wondering if anyone knows of any usage in any other context (I have been unable to locate one.) Any other information - etymological or historical - would also be very welcome - especially if it sheds light as to how idiosyncratic an anglicization it is.

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Replying to the "Etymology" part of your question...

The OED says:

blanc-bec |bl‹fatatilde› bɛk| - [French, lit. ‘white beak’.] A raw youngster, greenhorn.

c 1845 C. Brontë Professor (1857) I. xii. 219 It was nonsense for her to think of taking such a ‘blanc-bec’ as a husband, since she must be at least ten years older than I.    1853 ― Villette I. ix. 172 You should have seen what a blanc-bec he looked‥how he hesitated and blushed.    1923 Conrad Rover viii. 132, I may be disparu but I am too solid yet for any blancbec that loses his temper.

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Haha...that Brontë quote out of context is rather risqué. They're actually talking about money matters. – Jon Purdy Apr 3 '11 at 18:55
Hey Jon, can you please explain what the context is - how is 'blancbec' actually used there? – Chuck Apr 3 '11 at 21:30

My French dictionary says a blancbec is a

jeune homme inexpérimenté mais prétentieux

Which means something like "a young, inexperienced man who puts on airs" (lit. "young man inexperienced but pretentious").

An English equivalent might be "callow youth."

callow (esp. of a young person) inexperienced and immature

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