raison d'être

[ rey-zohn de-truh; French re-zawn de-truh ]
/ ˈreɪ zoʊn ˈdɛ trə; French rɛ zɔ̃ ˈdɛ trə /

noun, plural rai·sons d'ê·tre [rey-zohnz de-truh; French re-zawn de-truh] /ˈreɪ zoʊnz ˈdɛ trə; French rɛ zɔ̃ ˈdɛ trə/.

reason or justification for being or existence: Art is the artist's raison d'être.

Origin of raison d'être

Borrowed into English from French around 1865–70
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

British Dictionary definitions for raison d'etre

raison d'être

/ French (rɛzɔ̃ dɛtrə) /

noun plural raisons d'être (rɛzɔ̃ dɛtrə)

reason or justification for existence
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

Culture definitions for raison d'etre

raison d'être

[ (ray-zohnn det-ruh) ]

A basic, essential purpose; a reason to exist: “Professor Naylor argues that in the nuclear age, infantry forces have lost their raison d'être.” From French, meaning “reason for being.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.