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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
  • Here her energy and savoir-faire rendered her indispensable in every department.

    Agnes of Sorrento Harriet Beecher Stowe
  • In Glasgow, show your savoir-faire; but, in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, your savoir-vivre.

    Friend Mac Donald Max O'Rell
  • Bindle, not to be outdone in savoir-faire, picked up the menu and regarded it with wrinkled brow.

    Adventures of Bindle Herbert George Jenkins
  • Determined that never again, even to herself, should she call me a boy, I summoned to my aid all the savoir-faire I could command.

  • The savoir-faire which would have helped some men to take the rebuke entirely deserted him.

    The Drunkard Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull
  • A certain cheery impertinence which characterized Charlie was fondly set down as savoir-faire and dash.

    Tomaso's Fortune and Other Stories Henry Seton Merriman
  • Another requisite for the popular girl is savoir-faire; she must know how to do things.

  • It has appeared to me that he disdains to exhibit his savoir-faire before a single eye-witness.

    The Bird Jules Michelet
  • But who can ever have been deceived that here was any one save a timorous defaulter in the matter of savoir-faire?

  • He even wondered a little at Nan's savoir-faire, and felt a vague sense of disappointment mingling with his relief.

    Name and Fame Adeline Sergeant
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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