raison d'être

rai·​son d'être | \ ˌrā-ˌzōⁿ-ˈde-trə How to pronounce raison d'être (audio) , -ˈdetrᵊ\
variants: or less commonly raison d'etre
plural raisons d'être also raisons d'etre\ ˌrā-​ˌzōⁿz-​ˈde-​trə How to pronounce raisons d'etre (audio) , -​ˈdetrᵊ \

Definition of raison d'être

: reason or justification for existence

Examples of raison d'être in a Sentence

Art is his raison d'être.

Recent Examples on the Web

His wife, six children, their spouses, and his fifteen grandchildren were his raison d'etre. courant.com, "Stanley A. Bartus M.D.," 22 June 2019 Their latest venture is the boy band known as NCT, which seemingly has no boundaries and will result in multiple sub-groups, each with their own distinct raison d'etre. Tamar Herman, Billboard, "NCT 127 is Running Toward the Future: 'We Like to Challenge Ourselves'," 4 July 2018 This is yet another example of why this is an amazing time to be following the launch industry and the raison d'etre for this newsletter. Eric Berger, Ars Technica, "Rocket Report: Chinese tourism, launch by centrifuge, SLS the “right” rocket," 22 June 2018 His courageous raison d'etre serves as an inspiration to countless others, from rock stars and celebrities to Bill Gates and former President Barack Obama. Jeff Duncan, NOLA.com, "Congress finally finds something it can agree on: Steve Gleason," 6 June 2018 The modern raison d'etre for all royals is to prove their worth through philanthropy and public service. USA TODAY, "At Santa Fe High School, police had an active-shooter plan. Then the fog of chaos descended," 21 May 2018 As described by Corrections, evidence pointing to Bruton as a contraband courier formed the checkpoint's raison d'etre. David J. Neal, miamiherald, "The Department of Corrections officer saw the prison checkpoint. And skedaddled. | Miami Herald," 26 Apr. 2018 But such slashing doesn't seem to be the firm's raison d'etre. Michelle Jarboe, cleveland.com, "Firm buying into American Greetings seen as a 'rebuilder' of businesses," 25 Feb. 2018 Surely Lisa's raison d'etre can't all be in their first-date scene, when she is made to mouth a shameless amount of historical background to the Iraq war to jog the audience's memory. Deborah Young, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Shock and Awe': Film Review | Dubai 2017," 18 Dec. 2017

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

1864, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for raison d'être


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Dictionary Entries near raison d'être

raisin wine


raison d'état

raison d'être




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Time Traveler for raison d'être

The first known use of raison d'être was in 1864

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More Definitions for raison d'être

raison d'être


English Language Learners Definition of raison d'être

formal : the thing that is most important to someone or something : the reason for which a person or organization exists

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Comments on raison d'être

What made you want to look up raison d'être? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


readily or continually undergoing change

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