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English

Etymology

Borrowed from French je ne sais quoi (literally I don't know what).

Pronunciation

  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˌʒə nə seɪ ˈkwɑː/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˌʒə nə seɪ ˈkwɑ/[1]
  • (emulating French) IPA(key): /ˌʒə n(ə) sɛ ˈkwɑː/
  • Rhymes: -ɑː

Noun

je ne sais quoi (uncountable)

  1. An indefinable quality that makes something distinctive or attractive.
    She has a certain je ne sais quoi about her.
    • 1894, George du Maurier, Trilby[1], page 85:
      “Say, you others, I find that the Englishman has something of truly distinguished in the voice, something of sympathetic, of touching—something of je ne sais quoi!” Bouchardy: “Yes, yes—something of je ne sais quoi! That's the very phrase— []

Translations

References

Further reading


French

Alternative forms

Etymology

Literally “I don't know what”.

Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /ʒə n(ə) sɛ kwa/
  • Rhymes: -a

Noun

je ne sais quoi m (plural je ne sais quoi)

  1. A certain something, je ne sais quoi (intangible quality that makes something distinctive)

Synonyms