from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The true mean; a just medium or balance between extremes; specifically, judicious moderation, as between extremes of opinion or conduct: defined as a political term by Montesquieu, but first brought into common use by Louis Philippe in 1831 in characterizing his own system of government.


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  • juste milieu – the happy medium, the golden mean; judicious moderation, esp. in politics

    July 27, 2008

  • I don't deny that this term exists. But is it in common use? In contrast to the majority of words on this list, I have never read or heard this expression.

    Also - and French is not my (one-syllable, pace Seanahan!) forte - 'milieu juste' sounds more natural to me than 'juste milieu', if only by analogy with mot juste. Perhaps a francophone wordie might care to weigh in?

    July 27, 2008

  • Other synonyms: the middle course, the middle-of-the-road, aurea mediocritas.

    I'd never heard of this term either, Sionnach. While it may not be in common use anymore, I still find it somewhat useful to know, especially as I like French-sounding words (I don't speak French) and might be inclined to try to use it in a conversation some day.

    July 27, 2008

  • If that conversation is about 19th century French painting, then go right ahead. Otherwise I'd advise against it, because of the high risk that its use may be perceived as a pretentious affectation. Depends on who you're talking to, of course.

    July 27, 2008

  • You've obviously researched the subject :) I'll put it away in my passive vocabulary, then. Heaven forbid I'd come across as a pretentious twit!

    July 27, 2008