devoir

noun

1
2
: a usually formal act of civility or respect

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How the Pronunciation of Devoir Evolved

Devoir was borrowed twice, in a manner of speaking. We first borrowed it in its Anglo-French form, dever, back in the days of Middle English. As is so often the case when an adopted word becomes established in English, its pronunciation shifted to conform to English pronunciation standards. The French put the stress on the last syllable, but English speakers stressed the first. One hundred or so years later, some writers changed the English spelling to "devoir" to match the modern French. That French borrowing was actually pronounced like French (as well as English speakers could, anyway)-just as it is today.

Example Sentences

patient confidentiality has long been an integral part of a physician's professional devoir

Word History

Etymology

alteration of Middle English dever, devoir, from Anglo-French, from deveir, devoer to owe, be obliged, from Latin debēre — more at debt

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Dictionary Entries Near devoir

Cite this Entry

“Devoir.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/devoir. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

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