: a woman who is a skilled and usually professional reciter
"I say 'chanteuse' but this is by courtesy, for she was more of a diseuse to begin with, speaking her songs…." - From Paul Johnson's 2010 book Humorists: From Hogarth to Noel Coward
"At Jurowski's insistence, the cast represented a spectrum of singers from opera to cabaret. So coloratura soprano and contemporary music singer Alison Bell, slinky cabaret diseuse Meow Meow, and [bel canto](https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bel canto) soprano Gabriela Istoc were the women fighting for the affections of Mark Padmore's brutally charismatic Macheath." - From a theater review by Tim Ashley in The Guardian (London), March 4, 2013
Did You Know?
The American actress Ruth Draper (1884-1956) was known for her character-driven monologues and theatrical sketches, portraying some 58 different characters utilizing a range of languages and dialects. A comparable entertainer today might be labeled a performance artist, but a term that emerged during Draper's lifetime was "diseuse." Broadly, a diseuse is a professional female reciter, though often the word is used specifically to refer to one who recites verse or other text to music. (A male reciter would be a diseur, but that word is rare in English.) Both "diseuse" and "diseur" derive from Old French "dire" ("to say") and ultimately from the Latin verb "dicere."
Test Your Vocabulary with M-W Quizzes
Word Family Quiz
What relative of "diseuse" is used to refer to a thing mentioned previously and is often symbolized by inverted commas or apostrophes to save space? The answer is …
Theme music by Joshua Stamper ©2006 New Jerusalem Music/ASCAP