savoir faire


sa·​voir faire ˌsav-ˌwär-ˈfer How to pronounce savoir faire (audio)
: capacity for appropriate action
especially : a polished sureness in social behavior
Choose the Right Synonym for savoir faire

tact, address, poise, savoir faire mean skill and grace in dealing with others.

tact implies delicate and considerate perception of what is appropriate.

questions showing a lack of tact

address stresses dexterity and grace in dealing with new and trying situations and may imply success in attaining one's ends.

brought it off with remarkable address

poise may imply both tact and address but stresses self-possession and ease in meeting difficult situations.

answered the accusations with unruffled poise

savoir faire is likely to stress worldly experience and a sure awareness of what is proper or expedient.

the savoir faire of a seasoned traveler

Examples of savoir faire in a Sentence

I admire her sophistication and savoir faire. He handled the problem with his usual savoir faire.
Recent Examples on the Web The family had brilliant old Cognac in the cellar and knew all the production secrets (the fabled French savoir faire), but sales had stalled. Jason O'Bryan, Robb Report, 19 Aug. 2023 In several instances it was subsumed in service to art in the form of tour de force savoir faire that nonetheless overpowered the models, who seemed to become the wall on which the masterpiece was hung. Laird Borrelli-Persson, Vogue, 12 July 2023 That would be Alain (Niels Schneider), a self-deprecating fiction writer in a thrift-shop jacket, with an attitude of romantic savoir faire. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 4 Sep. 2023 Its members are typically underworld all-stars, each one the master of a highly specialized skill: picking pockets, counting cards, hacking computers, back-flipping over motion detectors, strolling into Sotheby’s with so much savoir faire as to seem like a legitimate customer. Kathryn Schulz, The New Yorker, 19 June 2023 Barrie was founded in 1903 on the banks of the Teviot river and developed a unique savoir faire throughout the years. Cécilia Pelloux, Forbes, 9 Mar. 2023 Some stunning examples of Valentino’s savoir faire are enshrined in the Wunderkammer room, but visitors will likewise delight in the glitter and glamour of the DI.VAS display, which pays homage to the relationship between Valentino and the worlds of cinema and music. Tiziana Cardini, Vogue, 28 Oct. 2022 Growing up, Mukarram showed a strange mix of savoir faire and ineptitude. Alex Traub, New York Times, 7 Feb. 2023 Dating back mainly to the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s, the couture in the Fashion Week sale highlights the skill and savoir faire of various fashion greats. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 9 Jan. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'savoir faire.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


French savoir-faire, literally, knowing how to do

First Known Use

1788, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of savoir faire was in 1788

Dictionary Entries Near savoir faire

Cite this Entry

“Savoir faire.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Feb. 2024.

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