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.

QUIZZES

CHALLENGE YOURSELF WITH THESE WORDS FROM "LITTLE WOMEN"

"Little Women" may be a classic, but that doesn't mean we all know the meanings of the vocab words from the book. Can you define these words correctly and make Jo proud?
Question 1 of 10
earnest

Origin of je ne sais quoi

literally, I don't know what

Words nearby je ne sais quoi

jct., jd, jd., jdl, je, je ne sais quoi, je., jealous, jealousy, jean, jean de meung
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for je ne sais quoi

  • He was a "foot-in-the-grave young man," or a "Je-ne-sais-quoi young man."

    The Joyful Heart|Robert Haven Schauffler
  • In pair-oar rowing there is needed a je-ne-sais-quoi sort of mutual concession of style.

    Boating|W. B. Woodgate

British Dictionary definitions for je ne sais quoi

je ne sais quoi
/ French (ʒənsekwa) /

noun

an indefinable quality, esp of personality

Word Origin for je ne sais quoi

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

Cultural definitions for je ne sais quoi

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 New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.