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 And anyway, who would consider strapping on a headlamp at a resort where dressing up for dinner is de rigueur, and where Nobel laureates, prime ministers, and members of Hollywood royalty are your companions at the nightly cocktail hour? Heidi Mitchell, Travel + Leisure, "Guana Island, the Jewel of the British Virgin Islands, Promises True Solitude," 29 Mar. 2021 Old-school elegance seasoned lightly with spunk is de rigueur at Courtland & Co., and that mix carries over here. Stephanie Hunt, Southern Living, "This Savannah Homeowner Shows Us How to Find the Charm By Embracing Old House Surprises," 20 Mar. 2021 Stuck at home and videoconferencing, young people with eco-conscious values have become a prized new market for antiques and art to liven up their spaces, moving up the shopping ladder from de rigueur vintage clothing, anecdotal evidence indicates. Los Angeles Times, "In the pandemic, young folks discover antiques for Zoom and nostalgia," 14 Mar. 2021 Cooking with olive oil is de rigueur (or di rigore) and can also take the place of butter. Paul Feinstein, Travel + Leisure, "10 Eating and Drinking Rules Italians Live By," 26 Feb. 2021 Besides some de rigueur attempts at multilateralism, like rejoining the Paris Agreement, team Biden has yet to stake out much of a progressive foreign policy position. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, "Does Biden Want Less War, or Just War With More Rules?," 5 Mar. 2021 Monkey and Pigsy even exchange the de rigueur banter and mutual putdowns of such action movies. Washington Post, "The action-packed saga ‘Monkey King: Journey to the West’ gets a modern take," 3 Mar. 2021 Protective masks that keep lips and nostrils on lock are now de rigueur among members of polite society. Rachel Feltman And Jordan Blok, Popular Science, "The 10 most exceptional personal care products from 2020," 4 Dec. 2020 Now that larger screens are de rigueur, hiding a TV in a cabinet is more difficult. Tim Mckeough New York Times, Star Tribune, "It's time for a better TV room," 15 Jan. 2021

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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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

9 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“De rigueur.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/de%20rigueur. Accessed 11 Apr. 2021.

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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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