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Panache vs. Elan — What's the Difference?

By Maham Liaqat & Urooj Arif — Updated on April 30, 2024
Panache refers to a distinct, flamboyant style or flair in behavior, whereas elan denotes energetic confidence and enthusiasm in performance or style.
Panache vs. Elan — What's the Difference?

Difference Between Panache and Elan


Key Differences

Panache often suggests a theatrical or showy manner of doing things, emphasizing a dramatic flair. Elan, on the other hand, focuses more on the vigor and enthusiasm with which actions are performed.
Panache is typically associated with visual or aesthetic flamboyance, often seen in fashion or artistic performances. Elan is more about the spirit behind an action, highlighting dynamic execution.
In literature, panache is used to describe characters who are notably extravagant or grand in their manner. Elan describes characters whose actions are infused with energy and vivacity.
When discussing leadership, panache might refer to a leader's charismatic, almost theatrical display of confidence. Elan would describe a leader's ability to inspire swift, energetic responses from their team.
In public speaking, a speaker with panache might use elaborate gestures and strong emotional appeals, whereas a speaker with elan might captivate the audience with rapid, energetic speech and compelling momentum.

Comparison Chart


Style and flair
Energy and enthusiasm

Common Contexts

Fashion, artistic performance
Actions, performance

Implication in behavior

Theatrical, showy
Lively, spirited

Associated with

Visual or aesthetic appeal
Dynamic execution

Typical use in literature

Describing extravagant characters
Describing vivacious actions

Compare with Definitions


A grand or dramatic manner.
The chef garnished the dish with panache, adding edible flowers and gold leaf.


Lively spirit or enthusiasm.
She tackled every project with an elan that was contagious.


Flamboyant confidence of style or manner.
She walked into the room with such panache that all eyes were on her.


Distinctive style combined with fearless zest.
His elan in negotiations earned him respect among peers.


Distinctive and showy elegance.
His panache in fashion made him a trendsetter in the city.


Energetic flair or dash.
The young athlete’s elan made him a favorite among fans.


The ability to make a sophisticated impression.
The playwright’s latest work was delivered with much panache.


Vivacity in style or manner.
Her writing sparkled with a wit and elan rare in academic circles.


Ornamental and stylish execution.
The decorator’s panache transformed the simple home into a chic abode.


Enthusiastic vigor and liveliness.


Panache (French pronunciation: ​[panaʃ]) is a word of French origin that carries the connotation of flamboyant manner and reckless courage, derived from the helmet-plume worn by cavalrymen in the Early Modern period.The literal translation is a plume, such as is worn on a hat or a helmet; the reference is to King Henry IV of France (13 December 1553 – 14 May 1610), a pleasure-loving and cynical military leader, famed for wearing a striking white plume in his helmet and for his war cry: "Follow my white plume!" (French: "Ralliez-vous à mon panache blanc!").


Distinctive style or flair.


Dash; verve.


Uncommon spelling of élan


A bunch of feathers or a plume, especially on a helmet.


Ardor inspired by passion or enthusiasm.


(countable) An ornamental plume on a helmet.


A feeling of strong eagerness (usually in favor of a person or cause);
They were imbued with a revolutionary ardor
He felt a kind of religious zeal


Flamboyance, energetic style or action.


Distinctive and stylish elegance;
He wooed her with the confident dash of a cavalry officer


A plume or bunch of feathers, esp. such a bunch worn on the helmet; any military plume, or ornamental group of feathers.
A panache of variegated plumes.


Enthusiastic and assured vigor and liveliness;
A performance of great elan and sophistication


A pleasingly flamboyant style or manner; flair{4}; verve.


Distinctive and stylish elegance;
He wooed her with the confident dash of a cavalry officer


A feathered plume on a helmet

Common Curiosities

How does panache differ from elan in fashion?

In fashion, panache is about flamboyant visual style, while elan emphasizes spirited confidence.

What is panache?

Panache refers to a showy, theatrical style or manner.

Is elan associated with specific activities?

Elan is commonly associated with activities that require zest and lively execution.

Can a person exhibit both panache and elan?

Yes, a person can exhibit both, showing flamboyant style with energetic enthusiasm.

What is elan?

Elan describes a lively, enthusiastic spirit or manner.

Which is more about energy, panache or elan?

Elan is more focused on energy and lively spirit.

How are panache and elan portrayed in literature?

Panache is shown in extravagant characters, elan in their vivacious actions.

Is panache more about appearance or attitude?

Panache involves both appearance and attitude, leaning towards dramatic presentation.

Can leadership styles incorporate panache or elan?

Leadership styles can incorporate either, with panache showing in dramatic confidence and elan in energetic inspiration.

Which is likely to be more appealing in public speaking, panache or elan?

Both can be appealing; panache attracts with dramatic flair, elan with compelling energy.

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Author Spotlight

Written by
Maham Liaqat
Co-written by
Urooj Arif
Urooj is a skilled content writer at Ask Difference, known for her exceptional ability to simplify complex topics into engaging and informative content. With a passion for research and a flair for clear, concise writing, she consistently delivers articles that resonate with our diverse audience.

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