adjective, de·mur·er, de·mur·est.

characterized by shyness and modesty; reserved.
affectedly or coyly decorous, sober, or sedate.

Origin of demure

1350–1400; Middle English dem(e)ur(e) well-mannered, grave < Anglo-French demuré, past participle of demurer to demur; perhaps influenced by Old French mur, mëur grave, mature (< Latin matūrus)
Related formsde·mure·ly, adverbde·mure·ness, nounun·de·mure, adjectiveun·de·mure·ly, adverbun·de·mure·ness, noun
Can be confuseddemur demure

Synonyms for demure

1. retiring. See modest.

Antonyms for demure

1, 2. indecorous. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for demurely

Contemporary Examples of demurely

  • Demurely they poured drinks and politely tried to speak English.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Bar-Hopping With the Kyoto Geisha

    Liza Foreman

    September 1, 2014

  • Now that she has retired as CEO of World Wrestling Entertainment, she can demurely admit “sometimes we pushed the envelope.”

    The Daily Beast logo
    The GOP's Mean Girls

    Gail Sheehy

    October 17, 2010

  • They are demurely dressed and stuffed into shiny shopping bags, soon to be tattered but reused in my new life.

    The Daily Beast logo
    The Bag Lady's Papers, Part III

    Alexandra Penney

    January 6, 2009

Historical Examples of demurely

  • When he reached the doorstep, Sidney was demurely seated and quite alone.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • "On that point she may form her own opinion," replied Inez demurely.

    Fair Margaret

    H. Rider Haggard

  • She was as demurely grave as ever, but his suspicions were again aroused.

    The Portygee

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

  • "You must be awfully glad you're not a traveling salesman," she said demurely.

    The Portygee

    Joseph Crosby Lincoln

  • "You know I am a bachelor, Mr. Christian," said the lawyer, demurely.

    A Son of Hagar

    Sir Hall Caine

British Dictionary definitions for demurely



sedate; decorous; reserved
affectedly modest or prim; coy
Derived Formsdemurely, adverbdemureness, noun

Word Origin for demure

C14: perhaps from Old French demorer to delay, linger; perhaps influenced by meur ripe, mature
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

Word Origin and History for demurely



late 14c. (early 14c. as a surname), from Old French meur "mature, fully grown, ripe," hence "discreet," from Latin maturus "mature" (see mature (v.)) [OED]. The de- in this word is of uncertain meaning. Or possibly from Anglo-French demuré (Old French demoré), past participle of demorer "stay," and influenced by meur [Barnhart]. Or from Old French de (bon) murs "of good manners," from murs (Modern French moeurs) [Klein].

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper