en·​trée ˈän-ˌtrā How to pronounce entrée (audio)
 also  än-ˈtrā
variants or entree
: the act or manner of entering : entrance
: freedom of entry or access
: the main course of a meal in the U.S.

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The culinary sense of entrée can be traced back to 18th-century Britain. In those days a formal dinner could include not only the principal courses of soup, fish, meat, and dessert, but also an impressive array of side dishes. Between the fish and meat courses would come a small side dish, and because this secondary dish came immediately before the centerpiece of the meal, it was called the entrée, being, in effect, the entrance to the really important part of the meal. As dining habits have changed, meals have become simpler, and fewer courses are served. However, in the US, the course following the appetizer continued to be called the entrée, perhaps because it is a French word, and anything French always sounds elegant.

Example Sentences

We had steak as an entrée. entrée to the country club is through sponsorship by someone who is already a member
Recent Examples on the Web Presnal treats your basic pizza-pasta-entree menu as a canvas on which to paint vibrant and intricate creations. Rand Richards Cooper, Hartford Courant, 3 Jan. 2023 To the right of the plate, from right to left, salad knife, entree knife, fish knife, and spoon. Elise Taylor, Vogue, 19 Dec. 2022 Even better, each entree is served with a side of soup or salad and garlic bread. San Diego Union-Tribune, 18 Dec. 2022 This turkey and rice ground dog food entree is made exclusively by Purina in their US facilities. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 18 Oct. 2022 The menu itself is exclusive to Premium Comfort, always with options for a meat, fish, or vegetable entree. Rachel Chang, Condé Nast Traveler, 9 Sep. 2022 And an entree of beef, which is one of the biggest sources of greenhouse gas, from a White House that’s made climate change a priority? Emily Heil, Washington Post, 30 Nov. 2022 San Diego Blood Bank donors who donate blood now through Dec. 11 will receive a voucher for an entree (up to $15) from the Broken Yolk Café. Laura Groch, San Diego Union-Tribune, 27 Nov. 2022 The package includes an appetizer, an entree, a dessert and a nonalcoholic beverage for $64.99 per person. Dewayne Bevil, Orlando Sentinel, 22 Nov. 2022 See More

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

Word History


French entrée, from Old French — more at entry

First Known Use

1692, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of entrée was in 1692

Dictionary Entries Near entrée

Cite this Entry

“Entrée.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entr%C3%A9e. Accessed 3 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


variants or entree
: the main dish of a meal
: freedom of entry
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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