L’esprit de l’escalier

L’esprit de l’escalier (or l’esprit d’escalier), usually translated as “staircase wit”, is the act of thinking of a response, argument or clever comeback when it is too late to deliver it. The phrase can be used to describe a riposte to an insult or any witty remark that comes to mind too late to be useful, after one has left the scene of the encounter. The phenomenon is usually accompanied by a feeling of regret at not having thought of the retort when it was most needed or suitable.