[sav-wahr-fair; French sa-vwar-fer]


knowledge of just what to do in any situation; tact.

Origin of savoir-faire

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

Synonyms for savoir-faire Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for savoir-faire

style, finesse, adroitness, composure, tact, manners, elegance, poise, grace, worldliness

Examples from the Web for savoir-faire

Historical Examples of savoir-faire

  • Here her energy and savoir-faire rendered her indispensable in every department.

    Agnes of Sorrento

    Harriet Beecher Stowe

  • In Glasgow, show your savoir-faire; but, in Edinburgh and Aberdeen, your savoir-vivre.

  • Determined that never again, even to herself, should she call me a boy, I summoned to my aid all the savoir-faire I could command.

  • A certain cheery impertinence which characterized Charlie was fondly set down as savoir-faire and dash.

  • The savoir-faire which would have helped some men to take the rebuke entirely deserted him.

    The Drunkard

    Cyril Arthur Edward Ranger Gull

British Dictionary definitions for savoir-faire



the ability to do the right thing in any situation

Word Origin for savoir-faire

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."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper