dou·​ceur | \ dü-ˈsər How to pronounce douceur (audio) \

Definition of douceur

: a conciliatory gift

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In French, douceur means "pleasantness," and it is often used in phrases such as "douceur de vivre" ("the pleasure of life"). The word derives from the Latin adjective dulcis, meaning "sweet." A douceur is a gift or payment - sometimes, but not necessarily, considered a bribe - provided by someone to enhance or "sweeten" a deal. In the United Kingdom, "douceur" specifically refers to a tax benefit given to someone who sells a historical artifact to a public collection. Other sweet treats that "dulcis" has given to our language include "dulcet" (having a "sweet" sound that is pleasing to the ear) and "dulcimer" (a kind of stringed instrument that provides "sweet" music).

Examples of douceur in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Bordeaux’s sleepy country cousin is known for what the Bordelaise call the douceur de vivre — the gentle way of life. David Lansing, Los Angeles Times, 10 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'douceur.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of douceur

1721, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for douceur

French, pleasantness, from Late Latin dulcor sweetness, from Latin dulcis

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The first known use of douceur was in 1721

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Cite this Entry

“Douceur.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2022.

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