Mot Juste

“Mot Juste (mo zhust): The perfect, fitting word or phrase; precisely apt expression. Plural: mots justes.

‘It was a straight answer and Ezra had never given me any other kind verbally, but I felt very bad because here was the man I liked and trusted the most as a critic then, the man who believed in the mot juste—the one and only correct word to use—the man who had taught me to distrust certain adjectives as I would later learn to distrust certain people in certain situations; and I wanted his opinion on man who almost never used the mot juste and yet had made his people come alive at times, as almost no one else did.’

Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Excerpted from: Grambs, David. The Random House Dictionary for Writers and Readers. New York: Random House, 1990.

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