en·​trée | \ ˈän-ˌtrā How to pronounce entrée (audio) also än-ˈtrā \
variants: or entree

Definition of entrée

1a : the act or manner of entering : entrance
b : freedom of entry or access
2 : 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.

Examples of entrée in a Sentence

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 The Classique galette with ham and Swiss cheese comes topped with an egg, and the depth of flavor made for a delightful, full-bodied entree. Bruce Pecho, chicagotribune.com, 23 Sep. 2021 An indulgent, new entree is the $74 beef Wellington, which is an 8-ounce filet coated with mushroom duxelles and encased in puff pastry. Sarah Blaskovich, Dallas News, 13 Sep. 2021 Neither smoky drinks nor empty frames are novel notions, but to see those and other tricks of the trade in a restaurant where the average entree is $26 is uncommon. Washington Post, 1 Oct. 2021 Deciding on the entree from this lineup could be tough. Georgann Yara, The Arizona Republic, 13 Sep. 2021 While ham may be the more popular entree at American tables, lamb is the tradition in many other parts of the world. San Diego Union-Tribune, 4 Apr. 2021 Also being offered are several dinner entree options. Rachel Chang, Travel + Leisure, 21 Sep. 2021 Your choice of entree, soup, salad and spring roll special is available from 11:30 a.m. to 3 pm. Cheryl V. Jackson, The Indianapolis Star, 12 Aug. 2021 At $3 per meatball entree, not all humans can afford the utmost in pet luxury. Tanya Akim, Forbes, 17 June 2021

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.

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First Known Use of entrée

1692, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for entrée

French entrée, from Old French — more at entry

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Time Traveler for entrée

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The first known use of entrée was in 1692

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Last Updated

20 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Entrée.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/entr%C3%A9e. Accessed 21 Oct. 2021.

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English Language Learners Definition of entrée

: the main dish of a meal especially in a restaurant
: the act or manner of entering something
: the right to enter something


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