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90s Slang You Should Know

je ne sais quoi

[zhuh nuh se kwa] /ʒənə sɛ ˈkwa/
noun, French.
an indefinable, elusive quality, especially a pleasing one:
She has a certain je ne sais quoi that charms everybody.
Origin of je ne sais quoi
literally, I don't know what Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for je ne sais quoi
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I don't know what that means, but I love that sort of—of—of—je ne sais quoi, in short!

    Trilby George Du Maurier
  • Tout le reste a je ne sais quoi de chimrique et souvent de trs-funeste.

  • There is something about you, Tweeny, there is a je ne sais quoi about you.

    The Admirable Crichton J. M. Barrie
  • A raven hopping about the casks gives a je ne sais quoi, a cachet, to the premises.

  • And not one has the beginnings of the polished charm of manner, the fire of glance, the je ne sais quoi of Mrs. Hunt Maclean.

    The Californians Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton
  • But there was a je ne sais quoi in their behaviour to-day, which begins to alarm my suspicion.

  • But there was a je ne sais quoi in the whole cut of your jib as familiar to me as rolls and coffee.

    Grey Roses Henry Harland
  • "A 'je ne sais quoi young man,'" quotes the younger Miss Beresford, with a sneer.

    Rossmoyne Unknown
British Dictionary definitions for je ne sais quoi

je ne sais quoi

an indefinable quality, esp of personality
Word Origin
literally: I don't know what
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for je ne sais quoi

"an inexpressible something," French, literally "I do not know what."

[T]hey are troubled with the je-ne-scay-quoy, that faign themselves sick out of niceness but know not where their own grief lies, or what ayls them. [Thomas Blount, "Glossographia," 1656]

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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je ne sais quoi in Culture
je ne sais quoi [(zhuh nuh say kwah)]

That little something; a quality that eludes description: “The Mona Lisa's smile has a certain je ne sais quoi.” From French, meaning “I don't know what.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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