de rigueur

adjective

de ri·​gueur də-(ˌ)rē-ˈgər How to pronounce de rigueur (audio)
: 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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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.

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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

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 Unlike in the myriad Reddit forums, Discord channels, and Facebook groups dedicated to parenting, where mom and nanny shaming are de rigueur and self-promotion is frequent and blatant, camaraderie here is highly curated. Curbed, 18 Oct. 2023 No degree of ornamentation was too absurd, and Nudie suits became de rigueur for country stars. Mike Masterson, Arkansas Online, 1 Aug. 2023 And for 100 years, nothing better exemplifies dying in New York than Frank E. Campbell, the de rigueur funeral home for Upper East Siders and celebrities ranging from Judy Garland (Liza Minnelli planned her service) to Robert F. Kennedy and Jackie Onassis. Mark Peikert, Town & Country, 11 Apr. 2023 Nestled in the de rigueur Sunset Harbour neighborhood, the Club offers unlimited laser treatments and other aesthetic services for a set monthly fee of $99. Maria Tettamanti, Miami Herald, 30 Jan. 2024 Not only is there the de rigueur outdoor shower, but an outdoor bath to boot, laid within a spacious walled oasis. Christopher Cameron, Robb Report, 25 Jan. 2024 The style is still de rigueur for ballet and pointe dancers in rehearsal, where teachers need unobstructed views of the arms, neck, and shoulders. Brennan Kilbane, Allure, 5 Dec. 2023 It’s become de rigueur for the Big Two, as DC and Marvel are known, to revamp their titles every few years in a bid to generate excitement with readers. Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 July 2023 This was the era of debutante balls for which fantasy gowns employing couture techniques were de rigueur, and Lowe acquired these skills early on. Shelcy Joseph, Essence, 21 Dec. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'de rigueur.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

French

First Known Use

1833, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of de rigueur was in 1833

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Dictionary Entries Near de rigueur

Cite this Entry

“De rigueur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/de%20rigueur. Accessed 27 Feb. 2024.

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