de rigueur

adjective
de ri·​gueur | \ də-(ˌ)rē-ˈgər \

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

While hats are de rigueur at royal weddings, most women opt for frilly fascinators with veils, embroidery and appliques. Kerry Pieri, Harper's BAZAAR, "Cara Delevingne Wore a Top Hat and Tails to the Royal Wedding," 12 Oct. 2018 While tennis courts and swimming pools have long been de rigueur in high-end real estate, more families are building gyms, rinks and courts to help advance their child-athlete’s aspirations. Katy Mclaughlin, WSJ, "Wealthy Parents Help Child Athletes Go Pro in Their Own Backyards," 16 Aug. 2018 Jenny Lind, and soon these were de rigueur among robber barons like Leland Stanford, George Gould and Charles Schwab. Gideon Lewis-kraus, New York Times, "Selling Airborne Opulence to the Upper Upper Upper Class," 23 Jan. 2018 Musicians are not unique here: In the years since the Reagan administration, a reveling in what used to be called heartless materialism has become de rigueur. Scott Timberg, Vox, "How music has responded to a decade of economic inequality," 30 July 2018 Monroe made her latest album, Sparrow, with de rigueur producer Dave Cobb, who’s helped fashion a rich blend of countrypolitan gloss with sleek soul undercurrents. Peter Margasak, Chicago Reader, "Ashley Monroe rejects typical mainstream country to explore life in all of its complexity," 7 June 2018 This was the decade that brought Girls Gone Wild to the screen and made Brazilian waxes de rigueur, when girls pined for prohibitively expensive American Girl dolls and Limited Too clothes. Rhaina Cohen, The New Republic, "What the 1990s Got Wrong," 29 June 2018 Concerns have been voiced about how vulnerable pilots in these aircraft will be in combat environments, flying missions that for the most part have become de rigueur operations for armed drones flown from half a world away. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Air Force tests two turboprops as potential A-10 “replacements”," 19 June 2018 Privately sharing information has become de rigueur for police, private security companies and concert and festivals promoters. George Varga, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Security way up at outdoor San Diego concerts in wake of 2017 Las Vegas music festival massacre," 2 June 2018

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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Last Updated

14 Feb 2019

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The first known use of de rigueur was in 1833

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More Definitions for de rigueur

de rigueur

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of de rigueur

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

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