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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 28, 2005
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May 14 Word of the Day
Intelligence agency term for "psychological operation". A government or corporate-sponsored operation, usually taking the form of a "terrorist attack" or "crazed gunman on a spree", with the intent of panicking the public into demanding more police and laws inhibiting freedom. Psyops are usually carried out by drugging a civilian or group of civilians with aggression-promoting drugs, psyching them up, arming them, and sending them out to commit mayhem. Government-sponsored terrorism. See also blackshirts, conspiracy
Person A: Man, that nutcase Martin Bryant guy shot 35 people in Tasmania!

Person B: No, he wasn't a nutcase, that was just a psyop so the government could have an excuse to ban guns.
by Mystikan April 11, 2006
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2
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 03, 2008
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5
it is also ass in Estonian, which is similar to Finnish.
Sull on suur perse, You have a big ass
by peejay1954 April 12, 2011
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6
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
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