je ne sais quoi

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

Definition of je ne sais quoi

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

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 Ultimately, swapping out most of sugar and a portion of the butter with deeply flavorful dulce de leche preserves that defining shortbread texture while adding a little je ne sais quoi, a.k.a. a can’t-put-your-finger-on-it complexity. Emma Wartzman, Bon Appétit, "The Ingredient That Takes Shortbread From Meh to Marvelous," 3 Mar. 2020 Originally from France, Benazzou has that je ne sais quoi attitude and style that is often ascribed to French women. Katie Attardo, Marie Claire, "The French-Girl Guide to Layering Jewelry, by Two French Girls," 3 Mar. 2020 Such candidates promise to add a certain je ne sais quoi to the political fray — something intangible at the nexus of rigor, rationality, creativity and perseverance. Siobhan Roberts, New York Times, "In Paris, a Mathematician Confronts the Political Odds," 30 Jan. 2020 Each member of the SUR waitstaff was handpicked by Vanderpump, the British businesswoman that saw a certain je ne sais quoi in them and deemed the Hollywood hopefuls worthy of working in her restaurants — and appearing on her spinoff series. Ineye Komonibo, refinery29.com, "The Evolution of Stassi Schroeder On Vanderpump Rules," 8 Jan. 2020 There’s something magical about Paris: the city has the power to inspire creativity and experimentation, which includes a certain passion for the je ne sais quoi that is French girl beauty. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "Rihanna Steps Out in Paris With French Girl Bangs," 27 Sep. 2019 This je ne sais quoi has led them to helm what appears to be the only independent dedicated toy store in the Valley and one of two – the other in Tucson, Tanner said – in the state. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "Independent Scottsdale toy store Kidstop Toys & Books brings ‘magic’ to Valley children," 24 Nov. 2019 During their first two games, the Blues have been relatively impressive, but clearly lacked a certain je ne sais quoi to take them to the next level. SI.com, "How Each Chelsea Manager Under Roman Abramovich Fared in Their First Two Games," 17 Aug. 2019 In 2015, Current and Elliott launched The Great, a relaxed coterie of everything that's fashionable right now: prairie dresses, collegiate separates, distressed denim and a whiff of Parisienne je ne sais quoi. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "Former denim designers behind Current/Elliott debut exclusive Pottery Barn collection at Indianola," 29 Aug. 2019

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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Time Traveler for je ne sais quoi

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

21 Mar 2020

Cite this Entry

“Je ne sais quoi.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/je%20ne%20sais%20quoi. Accessed 3 Apr. 2020.

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More Definitions for je ne sais quoi

je ne sais quoi

noun
How to pronounce je ne sais quoi (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of je ne sais quoi

sometimes humorous : a pleasant quality that is hard to describe

More from Merriam-Webster on je ne sais quoi

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with je ne sais quoi

Nglish: Translation of je ne sais quoi for Spanish Speakers

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