demure

adjective
de·​mure | \ di-ˈmyu̇r How to pronounce demure (audio) \

Definition of demure

2 : affectedly modest, reserved, or serious : coy

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Other Words from demure

demurely adverb
demureness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for demure

Synonyms

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Did You Know?

Demure has essentially remained unchanged in meaning since at least the 14th century. Its first recorded use in our language dates from the Middle English period (roughly the 12th to 15th centuries), a time when the native tongue of England was borrowing many new words from the French spoken by the Normans who gained control of the country after the Battle of Hastings. Demure might have been part of the French cultural exchange; etymologists think it may have derived from the Anglo-French verb demorer or demourer, meaning "to linger." During Shakespeare's time, demure was briefly used in English as a verb meaning "to look demurely," but only the older adjective form has survived to the present day.

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
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Recent Examples on the Web The decision to be demure, to rely on colors that do not offend or call attention, is tied up in class-specific ideas of propriety and respectability. Cate Young, Vox, "Claws is a love letter to the proud, strip mall–fabulous American woman," 2 Aug. 2019 Even though bold jewelry adorns her wrists, she’s muted; the blunt wig of her stripping years has been traded in for a demure bob. Hannah Giorgis, The Atlantic, "How Hustlers Captured the Excesses of Pre-Recession Fashion," 17 Sep. 2019 Her new look was the turning point in her emotional evolution from a demure innocent into a steely leader and comics’ first female badass. Oliver Staley, Quartz, "Storm is comics’ overlooked groundbreaking superhero," 11 Sep. 2019 Even dressed in her demure black pantsuit, all eyes shifted to Knowles-Lawson, who posed graciously for photos with each black-tie guest who approached her. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "Tina Knowles-Lawson, TV stars steal the show at Ensemble Theatre gala," 19 Aug. 2019 The scene in question pointedly mirrors the movie’s opening sequence at an Osaka art gallery, where the woman — the lovely, demure Asako (Erika Karata) — and a handsome, tousle-haired stranger named Baku (Masahiro Higashide) first lock gazes. Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘Asako I & II’ is a playful, haunting drama of love lost and regained," 21 Aug. 2019 Olivia de Havilland, Ralph Richardson and Montgomery Clift were all sensational in this drama about a demure heiress, her distant, disapproving father and the suitor with dollar signs in his eyes. Brian Lowry, CNN, "Essential movies of the 1930s and '40s, from 'King Kong' to 'The Heiress'," 15 Aug. 2019 Whether mini or maxi, these dresses often have long sleeves and a soft bow at the neck, underlining the demure mood. Sharon Graubard, courant.com, "Fashion report: Cool classics for fall," 15 Aug. 2019 Of course there’s the girl, here named Eliza (Nell Williams) and a demure anti-Thatcher activist whose Tory parents look on Javed with discreet horror. Ty Burr, BostonGlobe.com, "In ‘Blinded by the Light,’ it’s Springsteen as salvation," 14 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'demure.' 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 demure

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for demure

Middle English

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Statistics for demure

Last Updated

20 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for demure

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

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More Definitions for demure

demure

adjective
How to pronounce demure (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of demure

: quiet and polite
: not attracting or demanding a lot of attention : not showy or flashy

demure

adjective
de·​mure | \ di-ˈmyu̇r How to pronounce demure (audio) \

Kids Definition of demure

1 : proper and reserved in behavior and speech
2 : pretending to be proper and reserved : coy

Other Words from demure

demurely adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on demure

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for demure

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with demure

Spanish Central: Translation of demure

Nglish: Translation of demure for Spanish Speakers

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