The literal translation refers to the feather worn in the helmet of King Henri IV of France, whose bravery and flamboyance gave the word its idiomatic meaning. It describes an almost reckless heroism best exemplified by French dramatist Edmond Rostand’s most famous character, Cyrano de Bergerac (created in 1897), who admired King Henri’s courage and was partly responsible for establishing “panache” as a desirable quality in a person.

We now also use it in reference to anything that exudes flair, from a musical performance to an outstandingly cooked meal.

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