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hors d'oeuvre

[awr durv; French awr dœ-vruh] /ɔr ˈdɜrv; French ɔr ˈdœ vrə/
noun, plural hors d'oeuvre, hors d'oeuvres
[awr durvz; French awr dœ-vruh] /ɔr ˈdɜrvz; French ɔr ˈdœ vrə/ (Show IPA)
a small bit of appetizing food, as spicy meat, fish, cheese, or a preparation of chopped or creamed foods, often served on crackers or small pieces of toast, for eating at cocktail parties or other gatherings where drinks are served with no other food.
an appetizer, as a relish or more elaborate preparation, served before or as the first course of a meal.
Origin of hors d'oeuvre
1705-15; < French: outside of the main course Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for hors d'oeuvre
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • This is an Italian relish (hors d'oeuvre), and can be obtained in cans.

  • No soup had been offered and champagne was served with the hors d'oeuvre.

    Peter Ruff and the Double Four E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • The sweetmeats or hors d'oeuvre of the older caterings for that taste are here collected together to form a pièce de résistance.

    The English Novel George Saintsbury
  • There epicurism was in the lip as well as the palate, and one had humour for a hors d'oeuvre and repartee for an entremet.

    The Disowned, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • This fish is excellent prepared in the same manner as finnan haddie or smoked salmon, or served raw as a hors d'oeuvre.

  • But, if Andre-Louis would hope to dine, he must begin by eating his pride as an hors d'oeuvre.

    Scaramouche Rafael Sabatini
  • The menu for an informal dinner would leave out the entrée, and possibly either the hors d'oeuvre or the soup.

    Etiquette Emily Post
British Dictionary definitions for hors d'oeuvre

hors d'oeuvre

/ɔː ˈdɜːvr; French ɔr dœvrə/
noun (pl) hors d'oeuvre, hors d'oeuvres (ˈdɜːvr; French) (dœvrə)
an additional dish served as an appetizer, usually before the main meal
Word Origin
C18: from French, literally: outside the work, not part of the main course
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for hors d'oeuvre

1714, as an adverb, "out of the ordinary," from French hors d'oeuvre, "outside the ordinary courses (of a meal)," literally "apart from the main work," from hors, variant of fors "outside" (from Latin foris; see foreign) + de "from" + oeuvre "work," from Latin opera, (see opus). Meaning "extra dish set out before a meal or between courses" attested in English from 1742.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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