demure

adjective

de·​mure di-ˈmyu̇r How to pronounce demure (audio)
1
2
: affectedly modest, reserved, or serious : coy
demurely adverb
demureness noun

Did you know?

In the nearly seven centuries that demure has been in use, its meaning has only shifted slightly. While it began solely as a descriptive term for people of quiet modesty and sedate reserve—those who don't draw attention to themselves, whether because of a shy nature or determined self-control—it came to be applied also to those whose modesty and reservation is more affectation than sincere expression. While demure sounds French and entered the language at a time when the native tongue of England was borrowing many French words from the Normans, the etymological evidence requires that we exercise restraint: the word's origin remains obscure.

Examples of demure in a Sentence

So even if you think you've moved past your reputation as The Rebel, two minutes after getting together with your more demure sister, you're likely to fall back into that hell-raiser role. Jessica Mehalic, Cosmopolitan, August 2001
It looked as though the dress and capelet were one piece. It created a demure look, but if you take off the capelet, it's a seductive strapless dress. Elizabeth Hayt, Vogue, December 1999
I made a lot of friends at Les Tourelles with whom I have kept in touch over the years. There was one darling little girl, much younger than the rest of us, who was sweet, demure, and quiet, with beautiful long hair like Alice in Wonderland. Anna Russell, I'm Not Making This Up, You Know, 1985
She was wearing a demure gray suit. the demure charm of the cottage
Recent Examples on the Web The simple mini number has an elevated look, thanks to the adjustable belt adorned with a demure wooden ring. Wendy Vazquez, Southern Living, 28 Mar. 2024 Matsui's no-nonsense friendly attitude defies his demure first impression. Yuri Kageyama, Quartz, 27 Mar. 2024 See all Example Sentences for demure 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'demure.' 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

Middle English

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of demure was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near demure

Cite this Entry

“Demure.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/demure. Accessed 13 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

demure

adjective
de·​mure di-ˈmyu̇(ə)r How to pronounce demure (audio)
1
a
: quiet and polite
a demure young lady
b
: not showy or flashy
a demure gray dress
2
: falsely modest, reserved, or serious : coy
demurely adverb
demureness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on demure

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