de rigueur

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 (, 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 Masks were de rigueur; hand sanitizer was everywhere. Paul Brady, Travel + Leisure, "These Travel Insiders Say Now's the Best Time to Go Abroad in Decades — Here's Why," 13 Oct. 2020 That will likely further a trend that began this summer, when driving destinations became de rigueur. Bruce Wallin, National Geographic, "How the death of business travel will change your next vacation," 1 Oct. 2020 Increasingly, the Premier League has taken on the air of the Bundesliga, where high-risk, high-reward pressing is de rigueur, and where — in all but a handful of cases — teams go into games not looking to limit damage but to inflict it. Rory Smith, New York Times, "On Empty Stages, Premier League Adds Substance to the Sales Pitch," 29 Sep. 2020 For women in particular, the vigorous performance of low self-esteem is de rigueur. Roxane Gay, Harper's BAZAAR, "Sarah Paulson Has No Fear," 22 Sep. 2020 What might have seemed downright Jetsons-esque just a few months ago is now de rigueur at many hotels around the globe, whose business model—predicated on person-to-person interaction—was threatened immediately by the pandemic. Betsy Blumenthal, Condé Nast Traveler, "Hotels Have Turned to Cleanliness to Cultivate Calm During COVID-19," 21 Sep. 2020 Now 27 years later, widespread backward compatibility and regular remasters (including those from Nintendo) have made that concept more de rigueur than revolutionary. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Super Mario 3D All-Stars review: A bare-bones nostalgia warp zone," 16 Sep. 2020 The white haze that settled in the stadium has become de rigueur for West Coast games in the days since the wildfires torched 10 states. Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "Opinion: COVID-19, wildfires force Oakland A's, Seattle Mariners to reckon with our contemporary woes," 15 Sep. 2020 Secrets and ulterior motives are de rigueur at work, and with no respite from colleagues, gloves come off. Mary Cadden, USA TODAY, "Review: Ruth Ware brings chills with isolated locked door mystery 'One by One'," 9 Sep. 2020

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


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Time Traveler for de rigueur

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The first known use of de rigueur was in 1833

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Last Updated

17 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“De rigueur.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 29 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for de rigueur

de rigueur

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.

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