a person of great wit or intellect.
Historical Examples

He was a statesman, a bel-esprit, a virtuoso, and a connoisseur.
The Monarchs of the Main, Volume I (of 3) Walter Thornbury

And that father of hers, with his doubtful past and his cruelties, and the bel-esprit her mother, with her doubtful reputation.
Resurrection Leo Tolstoy

What we commonly understand in French by “esprit,” “bel-esprit,” “trait d’esprit,” are—ingenious thoughts.
A Philosophical Dictionary, Volume 10 (of 10) Franois-Marie Arouet (AKA Voltaire)

One evening he took me with him to a literary renion, at which every bel-esprit of the capital was to be present.
Continental Monthly, Vol. I, No. V, May, 1862 Various

There was the blue-stocking lady, a mature belle and bel-esprit.
Life Without and Life Within Margaret Fuller

Madame de Pompadour joked my companion about her ‘bel-esprit’, but sometimes she reposed confidence in her.
The Secret Memoirs of Louis XV./XVI, Complete Madame du Hausset, an “Unknown English Girl” and the Princess Lamballe


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