de rigueur

adjective
de ri·​gueur | \ də-(ˌ)rē-ˈgər How to pronounce de rigueur (audio) \

Definition of de rigueur

: prescribed or required by fashion, etiquette, or custom : proper … tattoos, of course, being de rigueur among the poetry set. …— Will Ferguson

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De Rigueur: How to Pronounce It, Spell It, and Use It in a Sentence

If you want to use de rigueur in conversation pronouncing it correctly is de rigueur. (Click here to find out how.)

Spelling this fancy French borrowing correctly, on the other hand, isn't de rigueur (your spellcheck will do it for you in most cases), but it is possible. The vowels of its final syllable are trickiest. It may help to remember other French borrowings that end in eur, such as amateur, chauffeur, and entrepreneur. And of course the last four letters of liqueur match de rigueur perfectly.

De rigueur has been used as an adjective in English for almost two centuries now, which means that it's established enough to appear in running text without italics. It's foreign-sounding enough, though, that people can feel tentative about using it. Apply it where synonyms like proper, correct, and decorous are at home. Here are some examples of it in use in its adopted language:

Anglophone parents worry that being too strict will break their kids' creative spirits. A visiting American mother was shocked when she saw a playpen in our apartment in Paris. Apparently, back home, even playpens are now seen as too confining. (We didn't know. In Paris they're de rigueur.)
— Pamela Druckerman, Bringing Up Bébé, 2012

Being in the business of writing about cocktails and bars, I often find myself in some pretty swank digs—various "mixology" dens where the elaborate drinks require complex techniques, house-made bitters and farm-to-table infusions are de rigueur, and the bartender has achieved celebrity-chef star status.
— Jason Rowan, Wine Enthusiast, April 2014

Although de rigueur is usually found after the verb (especially after is or are), it's also sometimes used in the traditional adjectival territory before a noun:

Stone, who patiently smiled through the de rigueur photo shoot in front of a backdrop emblazoned with the logos of the festival and its sponsors …
— Paul Liberatore, Marin Independent Journal (marinij.com), 6 Oct. 2016

Why Does Your Invite Say Costume de rigueur?

If you're invited to a ball or other social function and the invitation includes the French phrase costume de rigueur, you are expected to adhere to a very strict dress code-typically, a white tie and tails if you're a man and a floor-length evening gown if you're a woman. In French, de rigueur means "out of strictness" or "according to strict etiquette"; one definition of our word rigor, to which rigueur is related, is "the quality of being strict, unyielding, or inflexible." In English, we tend to use de rigueur to describe a fashion or custom that is so commonplace within a context that it seems a prescribed, mandatory part of it.

Examples of de rigueur in a Sentence

Dark sunglasses are de rigueur these days. though he was wearing a dinner jacket and a black bow tie, his jeans and tennis shoes were hardly de rigueur
Recent Examples on the Web Eating on air is de rigueur here, so try getting through an episode without a snack at your own peril. New York Times, "6 Podcasts to Feed Your Inner Gourmand," 28 Dec. 2019 International insults have become de rigueur diplomacy during the Trump era. Adam Taylor, Washington Post, "83 not-very-flattering things foreign officials have said about Trump," 7 Dec. 2019 Bruins fans of a certain age — Boomer Alert! — will recall when Bobby Orr made such wizardry de rigueur on Causeway Street during his legendary career. BostonGlobe.com, "Krug's overtime winner," 23 Nov. 2019 Averell had a separate, much smaller bedroom next door to Marie’s in an arrangement that was de rigueur in so many households back in the 1950s, especially as Averell worked late nights. Wendy Goodman, ELLE Decor, "Averell Harriman’s Legendary Long Island Home Sparked One Editor's Lifelong Love of Design," 22 May 2019 In a panic-inducing announcement, Patagonia set new limits on the sale of its custom fleece and down vests, a de rigueur centerpiece of the modern three-piece suit. Akane Otani, WSJ, "Patagonia Triggers a Market Panic Over New Rules on Its Power Vests," 8 Apr. 2019 This glistening grape and gold duo is sure to shine against the season’s de rigueur flute(s) of bubbly. Zoe Ruffner, Vogue, "The Best Beauty Gifts Under $100 to Give Everyone on Your List," 19 Nov. 2018 Using a password manager is de rigueur for all cybersecurity mavens. Aaron Pressman, Fortune, "Apple’s Head of Marketing Wrongfully Dunks on Chromebooks," 15 Nov. 2019 Then came a quandary about 18th-century orchestral works from Paris: If Haydn and Mozart were writing for the enormous orchestras that were de rigueur in the French capital, how should a 32-member ensemble approach the music? Rob Hubbard, Twin Cities, "Review: SPCO’s Parisian sojourn is best when fiery and flamboyant," 20 Sep. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'de rigueur.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of de rigueur

1833, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for de rigueur

French

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The first known use of de rigueur was in 1833

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Last Updated

17 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“De rigueur.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/de%20rigueur. Accessed 25 January 2020.

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More Definitions for de rigueur

de rigueur

adjective
How to pronounce de rigueur (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of de rigueur

formal : necessary if you want to be fashionable, popular, socially acceptable, etc.

More from Merriam-Webster on de rigueur

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for de rigueur

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with de rigueur

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