Although I'm familiar with the differences between connaître and savoir, I am unsure which one best expresses the idea behind "I don't know that word," in response to someone using French vocabulary which I am unfamiliar with.

I am guessing it is connaître that I want.....Agape? Je ne connais pas ce mot. Ça veut dire quoi ?

  • In general I feel like savoir + nom is most natural if there's ellipsis involved or if the noun could be taken to refer to a clause (e.g. « Je le sais » → « Je sais que ... »). Other times connaître + nom works best.
    – Luke Sawczak
    Commented Nov 12, 2017 at 14:02

1 Answer 1


Je ne sais pas ce mot

might have been used several centuries ago to state you don't know the word meaning. It might still be used in some contexts, for example a student has to learn a list of words and one of them is not known by him/her.

Je ne connais pas ce mot

usually means you never heard about it.

You might know a word without knowing what it means though:

Je connais le mot agape, mais ne sais pas ce qu'il veut dire

I would then translate:

I don't know that word

with either (existence)

Je ne connais pas ce mot

or (meaning)

Je ne sais pas ce que ce mot veut dire.

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