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Precieuses Ridicules

(in Molière's comedy so called). Aminte and Polixéne, who assume the airs of the Hotel de Rambouillet, a coterie of savants of both sexes in the seventeenth century. The members of this society were termed précieuses- i.e. “persons of distinguished merit”- and the précieuses ridicules means a ridiculous apeing of their ways and manners.

Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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