Latin borrowing meaning "in and of itself", used in certain fairly specific, idiomatic contexts in casual English. Is typically used with a negative to indicate that a term being used is understood to be imprecise or off-the-mark (i.e., not accurate 'per se') in a case where the term is nevertheless useful to an explanation. Usually followed by an explanation or justification for the use of the term indicated.

It is as well sometimes used preceding a term indicated, especially in more formal (e.g., legal) usage. In these contexts, usually used in the positive to reinforce a characterisation as fundamentally being the case (i.e., 'per se' accurate).
"It's not that I consider it a 'joke' per se. It's just that I don't think it takes the subject quite seriously enough, under the circumstances."

"Sexual advances toward a minor are without exception per se illegal in this state. This is not open to question or challenge."
by Yst October 29, 2005
A Pretentious term, often used both out of context and too often by people who would like to sound more intelligent than they actually are.
"I know that you are my best friend but if you continue to use this phrase i shall have to kick the living shit out of you"..."Ok i wont kick shit out of you per se but i`ll certainly make you wish you had never said it"
by David Whittaker March 4, 2008
Synonym for "exactly" or "quite."
I wouldn't call her short, per se. Maybe vertically challenged.
by chu December 14, 2004
a phrase that allows some flexibility in the topic at hand, so you can talk about something without being very specific
i wouldn't say it's a psuedo box, per se, but i digress, i really do
by El_Scorcho August 28, 2003
-- on the face of it
-- generally speaking
-- on average
-- inherently

Frequently used improperly by persons who think it makes them sound educated.
Its not that these people are stupid, per se. Its usually the case that they are self-educated.
by wclay1 September 2, 2009
Of, in, or by itself or oneself; intrinsically.

with respect to its inherent nature;

Can be used to mean "as such", "sort of" and "just about" but the phrase may not fit into the context of such uses.
"this statement is interesting per se"

"i can go were ever want per se"
by Michael JB March 27, 2004
"as such" or "by" but really it seems to be used as a pause in a sentence.

It is an overused phrase by Neanderthal wannabes incapable of speaking or writing clearly.
I would interested in fucking her per se if she would just shut up.
by Jason Blair May 23, 2003