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

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.

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

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 Best not to think too long or hard about the dumb plot, the threadbare romance, the fetishization of U.S. military might or the de rigueur plausibility issues. Justin Changfilm Critic, Los Angeles Times, 12 May 2022 Time travel, multiverses and out-of-control science have become de rigueur in today’s action films. John Benson, cleveland, 9 Mar. 2022 While the notion of a journalist working in text and video simultaneously might seem like an aberration, the fact is that the ability to toggle between media venues has fast become de rigueur across the industry. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 11 Apr. 2022 These days, treadmill desks and under-table pedal exercises are de rigueur in offices. Emily Matchar, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Feb. 2022 At the time the idea of a pipeline blasting oil through a mountain was the cause de rigueur, and obviously things haven’t exactly improved. Keaton Bell, Vogue, 14 Oct. 2021 It’s de rigueur to be familiar with, if not an expert at, the digital audio workstation software the industry uses as well as the virtual instruments and effects that plug into it. Los Angeles Times, 16 Sep. 2021 Within an eight-year time span, the athletic apparel company raised $100 million in VC funding, quickly becoming the de rigueur startup darling. Nimah Quadri, Fortune, 12 Apr. 2022 The wine list offers a de rigueur mix of old world vintages with new world offerings. Alissa Fitzgerald, Forbes, 17 Mar. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of de rigueur

1833, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for de rigueur


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Last Updated

15 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“De rigueur.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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