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savoir-faire

[sav-wahr-fair; French sa-vwar-fer] /ˈsæv wɑrˈfɛər; French sa vwarˈfɛr/
noun
1.
knowledge of just what to do in any situation; tact.
Origin of savoir-faire
1805-1815
1805-15; < French: literally, knowing how to do
Synonyms
adaptability, adroitness, diplomacy, discernment, skill, ability.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for savoir faire
Historical Examples
  • Wrayson, although no one could accuse him of a lack of savoir faire, found himself scarcely at his ease.

    The Avenger E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • It was, if I may say so, a savoir faire of the heart instead of the head.

    Friendship Village Zona Gale
  • It was in sooth, a predicament to strain the savoir faire of the most polished courtier.

    Heart of the Blue Ridge Waldron Baily
  • At any rate, I admired the sergeant's tact and savoir faire.

    The Great War As I Saw It Frederick George Scott
  • The repast to which we sat down gave me a very exalted opinion of the savoir faire of my friend's chef.

  • I could not help noting the reserve and savoir faire with which my host took all this.

    Twelve Men Theodore Dreiser
  • The young Hebrews are frequently intelligent, well-bred, and witty, with a savoir faire which their Christian brethren lack.

    Venetian Life William Dean Howells
  • They conducted themselves with the poise and savoir faire of grown women.

    The Killer Stewart Edward White
  • I admire this story for the savoir faire, the nonchalance, the Vivian Greyism of Indian life.

  • She inherited not a little of her father's eccentricity, untempered by her father's savoir faire.

    Charlotte Bront T. Wemyss Reid
British Dictionary definitions for savoir faire

savoir-faire

/ˈsævwɑːˈfɛə/
noun
1.
the ability to do the right thing in any situation
Word Origin
French, literally: a knowing how to do
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 savoir faire

savoir-faire

n.

"instinctive knowledge of the right course of action in any circumstance," 1815, from French, literally "to know (how) to do," from savoir "to know" (from Latin sapere; see sapient) + faire (from Latin facere; see factitious). French also has savoir-vivre "ability in good society; knowledge of customs in the world."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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savoir faire in Culture
savoir faire [(sav-wahr fair)]

Ease and dexterity in social and practical affairs: “Peter is a friendly person, but he lacks the savoir faire required for a successful career in the foreign service.” From French, meaning “to know how to act.”

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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