I am searching for a good english word that would be an analogy for russian word izuminka, direct translation is raisin, but it is used in figurative sense.
Other synonyms I've found: appeal, picanthy, zest.

Most close meaning would be an interesting feature.
So it is something that makes the object not so common and this single feature tends to add an improvement, mostly when speaking about visual appeal or taste.

E.g.: "She is not exactly an attractive woman, but she has an ... "

Also it should be possible to use the same word in ironical sense, so if put in quotes it becomes a mockery:

For example a new website or software feature:

A: What is this new annoying feature?
B: You don't get it, this is a "..."

Or nitpicking about someone's look:

A: Why does she wear these ugly yellow shoes?
B: It is sort of her "..."

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    @Mari-LouA Exactly – Mikhail V Dec 26 '16 at 16:13
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    USP would kind of fit in both your example sentences. – Martin Smith Dec 26 '16 at 16:24
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    If raisin is used in the sense of a nugget of specialness in a bread or cake, then nugget or gem might be what you are looking for - a relatively rare positive surprise or special bit. – Drew Dec 26 '16 at 16:41
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    On the shoes example, you could say It's her thing. – bib Dec 26 '16 at 17:22
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    ".....she has a certain je ne sais quoi." – ab2 MonicaNotForgotten Dec 27 '16 at 22:55

je ne sais quoi, defined by The Cambridge English Dictionary as

French for 'I don't know what': a pleasing quality that cannot be exactly named or described:

Although he's not conventionally attractive, he has a certain je ne sais quoi that makes him popular with the ladies.

This term fits the OP's three examples very well.


She is not exactly an attractive woman, but she has a certain je ne sais quoi.

Ironic and mocking:

A: What is this new annoying feature?

B: You don't get it, this is a "je ne sais quoi"!

Nitpicking (with a few additions to B's response):

A: Why does she wear these ugly yellow shoes?

B: (with a shrug): It is sort of her...aah..."je ne sais quoi".

True, it is a French phrase, but widely used in English, and in an English dictionary.


The rather vague term, something is often used that way

A remarkable or important thing or person: He thinks he is something in that uniform.

American Heritage

In your case, you could say

She is not exactly an attractive woman, but she has something.

It is often said with a slightly rising inflection that suggests the feature is difficult to quite grasp or express. It is related to the French phrase (often used in English), je ne sais quoi.

A related term is a certain something, as in

She is not exactly an attractive woman, but she has a certain something.

Related Phrases are something else and really (quite) something

Oxford Dictionaries Online

It also can be used in a slightly derrogatory manner, ususally connoted by tone.

He is really something. [The emphasis would be on really, drawn out with an ascending tone].

See, also, the lyrics of the Beatles tune, Something

  • +1 also "she's not exactly an attractive woman, but there's something about her." – John Feltz Dec 26 '16 at 16:54
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    Ok, there is something in it ;) – Mikhail V Dec 26 '16 at 17:18

"Quirk" N. https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/quirk

1 A peculiar aspect of a person's character or behaviour:

‘they accepted her attitude as one of her little quirks

‘Every commander also has pet peeves, quirks, and peculiarities.

’‘He rightly concentrates on the particular textures and quirks of the characters rather than on the scenery.’

It isnt a perfect fit as it signifies more that which makes something unique rather than better, but it fits your examples quite well.




1A distinctive attribute or aspect of something:

‘a well-appointed house with interesting decorative features’

‘one salient feature of the case has been overlooked’

However, this skips the sense of a feature as a positive feature, such as used in marketing and software.



(Couldn't find a particularly good link to the phrase "It's not a bug, it's a feature", but that's because it's so very common.)

Anyhow, the sense as a positive feature is pretty normal, albeit not exclusive.

  • hmm, I've googled more examples, but it does not seem to fit well by sense. – Mikhail V Dec 28 '16 at 1:29
  • Consider "bonus", "feature", "advantage", and "plus". "Quirk" is not intrinsically positive but it's certainly not intrinsically negative, either, so tone can set that. On the other hand, now that I've thought of it, "feature" it's probably as good as it gets in English--at least for a single word. I've added it above. – The Nate Dec 28 '16 at 5:59

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