Quantcast
Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary

mot juste

play
noun, \mō-ˈzhuest\

Definition of mot juste

plural mots justes \same\

  1. :  the exactly right word or phrasing



Did You Know?

English was apparently unable to come up with its own mot juste to refer to a word or phrase that expresses exactly what the writer or speaker is trying to say and so borrowed the French term instead. The borrowing was still very new when George Paston (pen name of Emily Morse Symonds) described a character's wordsmithery in her 1899 novel A Writer's Life thusly: "She could launch her sentences into the air, knowing that they would fall upon their feet like cats, her brain was almost painlessly delivered of le mot juste…." As English speakers became more familiar with the term they increasingly gave it the English article "the" instead of the French le.

Origin of mot juste

French


First Known Use: 1896


Learn More about mot juste


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up mot juste? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a timid, meek, or unassertive person

Get Word of the Day daily email!

WORD GAMES

Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!

alt-5746713d76276

Which of these is a synonym of nonplus?

reduce perplex soothe disapprove
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ