je ne sais quoi

\ zhə-nə-ˌsā-ˈkwä How to pronounce je ne sais quoi (audio) \

Definition of je ne sais quoi

 (Entry 1 of 4)

: something (such as an appealing quality) that cannot be adequately described or expressed a young actress who has a certain je ne sais quoi

je maintiendrai

French phrase (1)
je main·​tien·​drai | \ zhə-maⁿ-tyaⁿ-drā How to pronounce je maintiendrai (audio) \

Definition of je maintiendrai (Entry 2 of 4)

: I will maintain motto of the Netherlands

je me souviens

French phrase (2)
je me sou·​viens | \ zhə-mə-sü-vyaⁿ How to pronounce je me souviens (audio) \

Definition of je me souviens (Entry 3 of 4)

: I remember motto of Québec province (referring to New France and its loss to the British in 1763)

que sais-je?

French quotation by Montaigne
\ kə-se-zhə How to pronounce que sais-je? (audio) \

Definition of que sais-je? (Entry 4 of 4)

: what do I know? expression of philosophical skepticism

Examples of je ne sais quoi in a Sentence


Although the sculpture had flaws, it also had a certain je ne sais quoi that made it very appealing.

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

For that winning dose of je ne sais quoi, Beckham wore hers with a classic black elongated cardigan by Chanel. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Victoria Beckham Puts a French Spin on ’80s Stirrup Leggings," 22 May 2019 There's just been a certain je ne sais quoi about the hue that many can't quite put their finger on. Donna Freydkin, Allure, "How Beyoncé and Rita Hazan Chose the Perfect Blonde Hair Color for Bey's On the Run II Tour," 29 Aug. 2018 Perhaps that’s the je ne sais quoi that’s got heads turning. Kate Branch, Vogue, "Meet Adeline, the Funk Musician Who Will Stoke Your Love of Glitter Eyes and Big, Big Hair," 12 Oct. 2018 More importantly, what gives them that je ne sais quoi is the differences that set them apart from that Brigitte Bardot stereotype. Leah Prinzivalli, Glamour, "10 Women Who Defy the 'French-Girl Beauty' Trope," 14 July 2018 Alameda resident Charlotte Boedec has a certain je ne sais quoi — as does her 2-month-old Hayes Valley boutique Gazette (334 Gough St.). Gail Goldberg,, "Hayes Valley boutique Gazette says bonjour to French labels," 5 July 2018 For the next several weeks, lean into your signature je ne sais quoi. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What Your Sign's July 2018 Horoscope Predictions Mean for You," 29 June 2018 Paris set the perfect stage for a couple rich with je ne sais quoi. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "This is How to Dress For Your Wedding After Party," 7 Dec. 2017 The designer has a loyal group of fans for her crisp clothes oozing with bohemian je ne sais quoi. Sarah Spellings, The Cut, "L’Oréal Collaborates With Ultimate French Tastemaker," 14 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'je ne sais quoi.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of je ne sais quoi


circa 1656, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for je ne sais quoi


French, literally, I know not what

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Statistics for je ne sais quoi

Last Updated

31 May 2019

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Time Traveler for je ne sais quoi

The first known use of je ne sais quoi was circa 1656

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More Definitions for je ne sais quoi

je ne sais quoi


English Language Learners Definition of je ne sais quoi

sometimes humorous : a pleasant quality that is hard to describe

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Nglish: Translation of je ne sais quoi for Spanish Speakers

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