Word of the Day

Saturday, November 25, 2000

sine qua non

\sin-ih-kwah-NON; -NOHN; sy-nih-kway-\ , noun;
1.
An essential condition or element; an indispensable thing.
Quotes:
Women's enfranchisement was crucial to them -- indeed, a sine qua non, since all other progress for which they worked, such as higher education and entrance into the professions, would be meaningless if women continued to be second-class citizens.
-- Lillian Faderman, To Believe in Women
Of the various attributes we fiction-writers require, he said, "one of the most important is detachment. Of course tenacity of purpose is the sine qua non, otherwise we'd never keep on with it for the year or two years or longer that it takes to finish the work."
-- Barry Unsworth, Sugar and Rum
However we choose to define a classic, a sine qua non is that the material lend itself to reinterpretation in the light of changing circumstances.
-- Matthew Gurewitsch, "A Country of Lesser Giants", New York Times, April 4, 1999
Origin:
Sine qua non is from the Late Latin, literally "without which not."
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