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sine qua non

(see-nay kwah nahn) prep. Latin for "without which it could not be," an indispensable action or condition. Example: if Charlie Careless had not left the keys in the ignition, his 10-year-old son could not have started the car and backed it over Polly Playmate. So Charlie's act was the sine qua non of the injury to Playmate.


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