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je ne sais quoi

[zhuh nuh se kwa] /ʒənə sɛ ˈkwa/
noun, French.
an indefinable, elusive quality, especially a pleasing one:
She has a certain je ne sais quoi that charms everybody.
Origin of je ne sais quoi
literally, I don't know what Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for je-ne-sais-quoi
Historical Examples
  • He was a "foot-in-the-grave young man," or a "je-ne-sais-quoi young man."

    The Joyful Heart Robert Haven Schauffler
  • In pair-oar rowing there is needed a je-ne-sais-quoi sort of mutual concession of style.

    Boating W. B. Woodgate
British Dictionary definitions for je-ne-sais-quoi

je ne sais quoi

an indefinable quality, esp of personality
Word Origin
literally: I don't know what
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for je-ne-sais-quoi

je ne sais quoi


"an inexpressible something," French, literally "I do not know what."

[T]hey are troubled with the je-ne-scay-quoy, that faign themselves sick out of niceness but know not where their own grief lies, or what ayls them. [Thomas Blount, "Glossographia," 1656]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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je-ne-sais-quoi in Culture
je ne sais quoi [(zhuh nuh say kwah)]

That little something; a quality that eludes description: “The Mona Lisa's smile has a certain je ne sais quoi.” From French, meaning “I don't know what.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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