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blueberry_kid's avatar

What exactly is that "jes nes sais quoi"?

Asked by blueberry_kid (5952points) November 5th, 2011

Well, I’m at school, and I go into AP English, right? And we have a substitue teacher. She’s very strict, and is one of those teachers that are “over the top” adnd expect the best of you.

So, we had a discussion on Atticus, from To Kill A Mockingbird. She came up to me, because we’ve had her for about two weeks, and she advertised to the whole class that I have the “jes nes se qua” in discussion, and explaining opinions in class. Also, she said I was the best in class, and always smiled when she called on me. Which was frequent. I thanked her for the compliment, but I had no idea what it meant.

I mean, I’ve heard people say it before, but what kind of what are you talking about now?

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13 Answers

tom_g's avatar

From Dictionary.com (“je ne sais quoi”):

“an indefinable, elusive quality, especially a pleasing one.”

janbb's avatar

The phrase is French. The correct spelling is, “je ne sait quoi” and it means literally, “I don’t know what.” Figuratively, it means as @tom_g says.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Literally, the French is “I don’t know what”, and, @janbb : Sorry, but the spelling is as @tom_g said and the translation is what I said. My French has been unused for awhile, but I was fluent…

janbb's avatar

@JilltheTooth You are right, but I wasn’t correcting @tom_g‘s spelling but the OP’s. I was rushing too fast.

JilltheTooth's avatar

I don’t rush anymore. I fall on my face when I do. And, by god, I have the scars to prove it!

Sunny2's avatar

It was a compliment. Say, “Merci.”

CWOTUS's avatar

¿Quién sabe?

wundayatta's avatar

It’s that certain something that one can’t explain or even put a finger on that makes something or someone what it is. I.e., you are special. My daughter is studying the same book. She had to write a play about a scene from the book. No. A screenplay. I think maybe they are filming it, but I haven’t heard about that yet.

anartist's avatar

You know it if you have it.

gailcalled's avatar

Here is a very famous song from La Belle Époque, sung by Yvette Guilbert.

Madame Arthur

It’s the story of a fairly ordinary woman who ended up with jewels, houses, money, and many lovers. Why” because of her “je ne sais quoi.”

Lyrics

First verse:

Madame Arthur est une femme
Qui fit parler, parler, parler, parler d’elle longtemps.
Sans journaux, sans rien, sans réclame
Elle eut une foule d’amants.

Chacun voulait être aimé d’elle,
Chacun la courtisait, pourquoi?
C’est que sans être vraiment belle,
Elle avait un je ne sais quoi!

Each succeeding verse gets less subtle until you discover what her “je ne sais quoi” literally is.

zensky's avatar

If you know, then you don’t.

HungryGuy's avatar

Ooh! Your teacher has the hots for you :-p

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