• synonyms


[sav-wahr-fair; French sa-vwar-fer]
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  1. knowledge of just what to do in any situation; tact.
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Origin of savoir-faire

1805–15; < French: literally, knowing how to do


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

cultivation, diplomacy, poise, savoir-faire, savvy, sophistication, suavity, graciousness, worldliness

British Dictionary definitions for savoir faire


  1. the ability to do the right thing in any situation
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Word Origin

French, literally: a knowing how to do
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

Word Origin and History for savoir faire



"instinctive knowledge of the right course of action in any circumstance," 1815, from French, literally "to know (how) to do," from savoir "to know" (from Latin sapere; see sapient) + faire (from Latin facere; see factitious). French also has savoir-vivre "ability in good society; knowledge of customs in the world."

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

savoir faire in Culture

savoir faire

[(sav-wahr fair)]

Ease and dexterity in social and practical affairs: “Peter is a friendly person, but he lacks the savoir faire required for a successful career in the foreign service.” From French, meaning “to know how to act.”

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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.