feeling intimidated by people you want to be really good friends with
The phrase “per se” means “in/of itself” or “intrinsically” and is used to clarify or narrow down a point. There is also a more specific legal definition which I won’t address here.
Examples of usage:
- Getting a parking ticket does not per se make you a criminal.
- I don’t hate the guy per se, he just gets on my nerves sometimes.
- “Ignorance per se is not nearly as dangerous as ignorance of ignorance.” — Sydney J. Harris
Please note that “per se" does not usually add a whole lot to the sentences it appears in, beyond a touch of highbrow appeal. Consider carefully if that’s the effect you’re going for, and notice that deleting it often makes absolutely no difference to your point. (It can, however, be a handy addition to a character’s dialogue if you’re trying to establish that character as an intellectual or a bit of a blowhard.)
Because the phrase is borrowed directly from Latin and looks a bit odd to an English speaker’s eyes, italics are suggested (but not required).
I often see this phrase misspelled as “per say” in casual writing. Spell-check might not flag this error, because “per” and “say” are both correctly spelled words by themselves.
I hit “per say” in a fic I was reading just this morning, in fact. :P