sine qua non

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

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

Replacing entrenched fantasies with reality also remains the sine qua non for advancing any prospects for peace. WSJ, "Refugee Status Is Keeping Palestinians in Exile," 10 July 2018 The sine qua non of an impeachment investigation, to say nothing of actual votes to charge and remove the President, is a Democratic takeover of the House in the November elections. Jeffrey Toobin, The New Yorker, "Will the Fervor for Impeachment Start a Democratic Civil War?," 19 May 2018 The Trump administration says accepting quotas is a sine qua non. Tory Newmyer, Washington Post, "The Finance 202: There's no easy way out of Trump's trade feud with Europe," 2 May 2018 Ever since Oprah hand-delivered American culture to the gurus of empowerment in the 1990s, positivity has been hailed as the sine qua non of daily living. Steve Salerno, WSJ, "In the War on Cancer, Truth Becomes a Casualty," 20 Apr. 2018 Emotional, as well as factual, honesty is the sine qua non of a memoir. Melanie Thernstrom, New York Times, "Can Sobriety Be as Interesting as Addiction? A Writer Wonders," 17 Apr. 2018 Tailored suits with sensible pumps are the sine qua non of congressional drag. Elinor Burkett, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kellyanne Conway Has Been Quietly Revolutionizing D.C. Since the Late '90s," 3 Feb. 2017 For decades, antique Persians, hand-knotted from silk and often taking years or even decades to produce, were the gold standard of floor coverings for the swank, the sine qua non of Oriental rugs. Jacob Bernstein, New York Times, "The Rich Have Abandoned Rich-People Rugs," 28 Feb. 2018 The hybrids Sacai’s Abe pioneered years ago are the sine qua non of fashion today, but hers remain more convincing than anybody else’s. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "The Top 12 Collections of Fall 2018," 8 Mar. 2018

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.

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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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Dictionary Entries near sine qua non

sine law

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sine prole

sine qua non



sine wave

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Time Traveler for sine qua non

The first known use of sine qua non was in 1602

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More Definitions for sine qua non

sine qua non


English Language Learners Definition of sine qua non

formal : something that is absolutely needed

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Comments on sine qua non

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


a tendency to relapse

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