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[sav-wahr-fair; French sa-vwar-fer] /ˈsæv wɑrˈfɛər; French sa vwarˈfɛr/
knowledge of just what to do in any situation; tact.
Origin of savoir-faire
1805-15; < French: literally, knowing how to do
adaptability, adroitness, diplomacy, discernment, skill, ability. 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.

  • For a moment, his savoir faire deserted him, and he was filled with ordinary, human-boy panic.

    Penrod and Sam Booth Tarkington
British Dictionary definitions for savoir faire


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



"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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