sine qua non

si·​ne qua non | \ ˌsi-ni-ˌkwä-ˈnän How to pronounce sine qua non (audio) , -ˈnōn How to pronounce sine qua non (audio) also ˌsē-; also ˌsī-ni-ˌkwā-ˈnän \
plural sine qua nons also sine quibus non\ -​ˌkwi-​(ˌ)bu̇s-​ How to pronounce sine qua non (audio) also  -​ˌkwī-​ \

Definition of sine qua non

: something absolutely indispensable or essential reliability is a sine qua non for success

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Sine qua non can be translated literally as "Without which, not." Though this may sound like gibberish, it means more or less "Without (something), (something else) won't be possible." Sine qua non sounds slightly literary, and it shouldn't be used just anywhere. But it actually shows up in many contexts, including business ("A solid customer base is the sine qua non to success"), show business ("A good agent is a sine qua non for an actor's career"), and politics ("His support was really the sine qua non for her candidacy").

Examples of sine qua non in a Sentence

Patience is a sine qua non for this job. an extensive grounding in mathematics is a sine qua non for a career in architecture
Recent Examples on the Web That impressive tally of awards season wins leads inevitably to the subject of curation, which is, after all, the raison d’etre and sine qua non of all film festivals. Steven Gaydos, Variety, 12 May 2022 And some significant part of her loneliness came not from being single but from living in a world that regards a romantic partner as the sine qua non of happy adulthood. Zoë Heller, The New Yorker, 4 Apr. 2022 Not just for electricity (the sine qua non of modernity), coal is the backbone of steel production and thus the enabling force of cities. Jude Clemente, Forbes, 27 Oct. 2021 While the interplay and performance of each member of this quartet are key, Cumberbatch’s Phil is the film’s sine qua non. Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times, 1 Dec. 2021 Patient consent is a sine qua non condition to patient care. Joao Mendes-roter, Forbes, 1 Nov. 2021 Knowing how to use one’s physical instrument is a sine qua non of both modeling and acting. New York Times, 10 Nov. 2021 Many of us thought that with both his deep foreign policy acumen and long experience in the U.S. Senate—where coalition-building is the sine qua non for success—upon entering the Oval Office Biden would readily seize the logic of collective action. Harry G. Broadman, Forbes, 1 Nov. 2021 Individual talent is important, but collaboration, teamwork, and the unified purpose of advancing the interests of the enterprise and its customers—the collective talent pool—is the sine qua non of digital success. Mark A. Cohen, Forbes, 19 Oct. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of sine qua non

1602, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for sine qua non

Late Latin, without which not

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Time Traveler for sine qua non

Time Traveler

The first known use of sine qua non was in 1602

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Dictionary Entries Near sine qua non

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sine qua non


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Last Updated

18 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Sine qua non.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 May. 2022.

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