Isn’t it funny how sometimes you immediately look up the word to satisfy your curiosity, but then other times you neglect the research, and the same word crops up again somewhere and you think to yourself, “Wow! I still don’t really know what that means!”
For me, I kept reading the word “avuncular” for about 300 years before I finally said uncle and looked it up, you know?
And most recently? → De rigueur.
I see it everywhere, and I always sort of imagine I know what it means, but really, when it comes down to it, I’m just guessing.
So I finally looked it up!
De rigeur is a French phrase [Duh!] and it basically means, “of rigor” or “of strictness”, as in "necessary according to etiquette, protocol or fashion."
My favorite dictionary, the Merriam-Webster says, “prescribed or required by fashion, etiquette, or custom.”
So there you have it.
Now I know.
Perhaps some of my French-speaking readers can shed even more light on this wonderfully ubiquitous phrase.
In the meantime I now feel confident to use it in some of my own writing.
I’m currently at work on a short story that takes place on the high seas, so I’m having Starbuck, one of my characters say:
“Aye aye Cap’n. Jake and I will help get them torn sails patched as soon as we can find de rigueur!”