je ne sais quoi

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, “Part Second”, in Trilby: A Novel, New York, N.Y.: Harper & Brothers, OCLC 174215199, 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


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)
    • 1987, Michel Berger (lyrics and music), “Ella, elle l'a”, in Babacar, performed by France Gall:
      Si tu l'as, tu l'as, Ella elle l'a / Ce je ne sais quoi / Que d'autres n'ont pas
      (please add an English translation of this quote)

Synonyms