What is the literal translation of piece d’resistance? I usually see it used to mean “the finishing touch” but if piece and resistance are cognates, it doesn’t make much sense to me.
My guess is that it is an idiom. In French, resistance does mean resistance. Piece does have a few other meanings than simply the English piece or bit (e.g., document), but none of them clearly indicate to me where the idiom originated.
One point in the English: piece d’resistance does not mean the “finishing touches” so much as the centerpiece. In a meal, after one has laid out the bread and soup and salad, one brings the piece d’resistance to the table (for example the Thanksgiving turkey, the Christmas goose, or Grandma’s finest soufflé). Perhaps the “resistance” is overcoming the difficulties of creating the masterpiece.
I believe the “finishing touches” are “les derniers mains.”
pièce de résistance n, pl pièces de résistance [F, lit., piece of resistance] (1839) 1: the chief dish of a meal 2: an outstanding item or event: showpiece.
You know how people chide each other on this board for not trying Google? My new one is www.dictionary.com
“French : pièce, piece + de, of, with + résistance, staying power, lastingness.”
They are, more or less (though, as outlined by tomnded, the word “piece” has a lot of other meanings in french, for instance : play (theater), coin, room, etc…). And the meaning of “piece de resistance” in french is the same than the english one given by tomndeb. It doesn’t make more sense in french. It could mean “the dish which will resist the longest to your appetite”, but it could certainly have an origin making more sense than that…
Thanks! That helps a lot. It makes much more sense now.