Merriam-Webster Logo
  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
  • Scrabble
  • Spanish Central
  • Learner's Dictionary


noun de·voir \də-ˈvwär, ˈde-ˌ\

Definition of devoir

  1. 1 :  duty, responsibility

  2. 2 :  a usually formal act of civility or respect

Examples of devoir in a sentence

  1. <patient confidentiality has long been an integral part of a physician's professional devoir>

Did You Know?

Devoir was borrowed twice, in a manner of speaking. We first borrowed it in its Anglo-French form, dever, back in the days of Middle English. As is so often the case when an adopted word becomes established in English, its pronunciation shifted to conform to English pronunciation standards. The French put the stress on the last syllable, but English speakers stressed the first. One hundred or so years later, some writers changed the English spelling to "devoir" to match the modern French. That French borrowing was actually pronounced like French (as well as English speakers could, anyway)-just as it is today.

Origin and Etymology of devoir

alteration of Middle English dever, devoir, from Anglo-French, from deveir, devoer to owe, be obliged, from Latin debēre — more at debt

First Known Use: 14th century

Rhymes with devoir

Adar, Adzhar, afar, ajar, all-star, armoire, attar, bar car, bazaar, beaux arts, bête noire, beurre noir, Bihar, bizarre, boudoir, boxcar, boyar, Bronze Star, bulbar, Bulgar, bursar, bus bar, canard, cash bar, catarrh, Cathar, chair car, chukar, cigar, clochard, club car, coal tar, cougar, couloir, crossbar, crowbar, Dakar, daystar, debar, decare, dinar, disbar, Dog Star, drawbar, durbar, earthstar, Elgar, eschar, eyebar, feldspar, fern bar, film noir, five-star, fixed star, flatcar, fluorspar, four-star, fulmar, gaydar, gazar, guitar, Gunnar, Hagar, handcar, horsecar, hussar, Invar, Iyar, jaguar, Kádár, leaf scar, Lehár, lidar, Lifar, Loire, lounge car, lumbar, jack-tar, jowar, Khowar, lahar, lekvar, lodestar, Magyar, malar, memoir, Mylar, NASCAR, Navarre, nightjar, North Star, pace car, paillard, peignoir, pinch bar, Pindar, pine tar, pissoir, planar, plantar, polestar, pourboire, prowl car, pulsar, Qatar, qintar, quasar, radar, railcar, raw bar, rebar, red star, roll bar, Safar, Samar, sandbar, scalar, scout car, Sennar, shofar, sidebar, sidecar, sirdar, sitar, slop jar, slot car, snack bar, sofar, solar, sonar, sports bar, sports car, stock car, streetcar, Svalbard, sway bar, tank car, T-bar, toolbar, town car, tramcar, trocar, unbar, volar, voussoir, Weimar

Learn More about devoir

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up devoir? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make more appealing or attractive

Get Word of the Day daily email!


Take a 3-minute break and test your skills!


Which of these is a synonym of namby-pamby?

lithe insightful energetic insipid
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.