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hors d'oeuvre

[awr durv; French awr dœ-vruh]
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noun, plural hors d'oeuvre, hors d'oeuvres [awr durvz; French awr dœ-vruh] /ɔr ˈdɜrvz; French ɔr ˈdœ vrə/.
  1. 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.
  2. an appetizer, as a relish or more elaborate preparation, served before or as the first course of a meal.
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Origin of hors d'oeuvre

1705–15; < French: outside of the main course
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for hors d'oeuvre

hors d'oeuvre

noun plural hors d'oeuvre or hors d'oeuvres (ˈdɜːvr, French dœvrə)
  1. an additional dish served as an appetizer, usually before the main meal
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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

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper