L’esprit De L’escalier: Staircase Of Wit

Yahallo! Today we are going to talk about the staircase of wit.

Staircase Wit

Does something you did like 1 million years ago keep you awake at night? You often regret doing it; you do not wish to think about it, yet you do it? And then you get embarrassed at your stupidity at that moment. Sometimes you have an after thought to a discussion, if you had answered another way - "Yes! If I had said or done so, perhaps it would have had a greater impact!" Or occasionally, your brain decides to ruin your mood by dragging out something stupid you did years ago, which is likely that other people don't even remember anymore.

Staircase Wit
Staircase representing Staircase Wit

This bizarre and peculiar feeling has a phrase called L'esprit de l'escalier or Staircase Of Wit.

My Wit Goes Up & Up 

The phrase was apparently coined by the 18th century French writer Diderot, who wrote in 1773 that while visiting the French finance minister Jacques Necker, a comment was made to which Diderot was unable to respond. “A sensitive man overcome by the argument leveled against him,” he wrote, “becomes confused and can only think clearly again at the bottom of the staircase.” [1]

It basically means a predicament of thinking up a comeback too late. Some sources say it is related to counterfactual thinking as well :-

It means nothing more than simply creating alternative versions of events that have already taken place in our life; making up a completely different situation. In a nutshell, it includes all the questions you ask in "What if I had" or "What if" form.

Evidently, we get so frustrated by this trivial thing, that we will try to create a similar situation just to perfect it and feel satisfied. This is an extremely stupid decision, but hey, its human nature. That's how we are.

It seems Staircase Wit and Counterfactual Thinking are strongly tied by similar examples.
To give you an idea, what if I had studied harder, would I have had a different life? But alas, I can't do anything now, what's done is done.

So my dear readers, take your time, but always make careful decisions 🙂 Don't be rash in your thoughts; analyze what you do, it really helps.


  1. Do you question your choices?
  2. Have you experienced L'esprit de l'escalier?
  3. Do you often think about past events and wish you could change them now? Can you share some?
  4. How often do you regret your decisions?
  5. Are you generally quick witted or do you take time to think up something impactful?

Well then, I pen off. Enjoy your day peeps~ ❤

18 Replies to “L’esprit De L’escalier: Staircase Of Wit”

  1. Really interesting read, thank you Raven ~

    1. Do you question your choices?

    Yeah, sometimes.

    2. Have you experienced L’esprit de l’escalier?


    3. Do you often think about past events and wish you could change them now? Can you share some?

    Not often, sometimes before i fall asleep. About one of my ex, decisions about studies, work. But the again, i wouldn’t be the same person without those choices, so i won’t regret them. Thus, i don’t think about it very much.

    4. How often do you regret your decisions?


    5. Are you generally quick witted or do you take time to think up something impactful?

    I like to take my sweet bloddy time >.>

  2. Completely true! As you said it is human nature. Most decisions about our attitudes are taken on impulse. It
    is up to each one to be able to deal with their actions, to deal with
    the reactions of this and to turn all this into learning.

  3. Well, this is a thing that I experience pretty often, from time to time… and it’s annoying and interesting at the same time. But it’s so ridiculous when you think about something stupid you did in the past, and then you feel very anxious about it and you try your best to forget that thing again lol.
    I also think very frequently about the small things we do everyday, if they have an impact on our lifes. Like, simply by deciding to greet a person or not can maybe have major impact in the future timeline.
    All this stuff really reminds of the game Life is Strange and their idea of the Butterfly Effect storyline.
    Anyway, I never knew this “effect” was called The Staircase of Wit – a rather strange name, for an even stranger effect.
    I’m also kinda a slow thinker and I tend to really have unnecessary thoughts about something, like , the ideas keep accumulating in your head and they stress you little by little.
    Oh, and about regreting your decisions… yeah, I also tend to do that, and as I was saying earlier, I keep thinking of how my future could be changed if I did some things in my past differently.
    Basically, this is a Very large and strange subject and also complicated to discuss and imagine…. unless you have a time machine. 🙂

  4. I think everyone has, at times, qualms about things they’ve done or left undone; regrets they didn’t do something or react differently. Any thinking person tends to analyze things and part of that analysis is playing out alternative scenarios. I suspect this is more pronounced in the introvert than the extrovert since the former are generally less practiced at social interaction and thus more likely to “think of the perfect thing to have said” long after it’s relevant. One’s sensitivity also enters into the picture; those who are sensitive to their own feelings are more careful toward the feelings of others. So nice to now have a term(s) that can describe these behaviors.

  5. Well, I always think about the future events and imagine how I can avoid them (if it’s a bad thing) or make it better than they could already be.

  6. If you had the power to go back and change your past things could end up worse. At least, thats what I think to erase my regrets.

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