We’ve all been there – when a barbed remark leaves you speechless and it is only when the moment has passed and it is too late that you think of the absolute perfect reply.
The French have a great phrase for this:
Broadly translating as staircase wit, the story behind it comes from French encyclopaedist and philosopher Denis Diderot. When becoming the recipient of a remark which left him without words, he later explained (in French, but I’ll give you the English!)
A sensitive man, such as myself, overwhelmed by the argument levelled against him, becomes confused and can only think clearly again [when he reaches] the bottom of the stairs.