29 October 2003


Browsing through www.yourdictionary.com, I noticed that Hors d'oeuvre was there! I was just thinking of it yesterday; one of my favorite words.

When I was younger, I called them "whores day vour" and thought Hors d'oeuvre was different from "or-derbs." Two different words, two different spellings, but the same meaning. Like sick and ill.

My mother cleared things up one family party when she was serving the elegant pigs in a blanket and potato puffs we so cherished when we were younger.

And so, time to eat! Not tapas, but Hors d'oeuvres!

Today's Word:
Hors d'oeuvre (Noun)

Pronunciation: [or-'dêrv]
Definition 1: A small savory appetizer served before a meal or with cocktails.
Usage 1: The plural of today's word is straightforward (hors d'oeuvres); it is the singular that throws us the curve. The [h] isn't pronounced in the first word and there is a superabundance of vowels in the second. And why do we need that apostrophe in the middle? Still, we have to spell it correctly, so here is the opportunity to learn how for any who might not have done so already.
Suggested usage: Of course, the object in the creation of hors d'oeuvres is to incorporate the most exotic ingredients obtainable: "She served a rich assortment of hors d'oeuvres made from small ugly creatures on the periphery of the animal kingdom that we would ordinarily try to avoid." However, since hors d'oeuvres are tasty tidbits, they lend themselves deliciously to metaphor, "Stepping on Claudine's toe as he helped her into the car was but the hors d'oeuvre to the resplendent feast of faux pas (blunders) Humphrey regaled her with the first time they went out together."
Etymology: Today's word means "outside of work" in French. When it originally entered English at the beginning of the 18th century, it was used as an adverb and noun meaning "(something) outside the ordinary." Later, the meaning settled on what was at the time called a "whet," a savory morsel served outside the regular course of a meal. The word "oeuvre" has a rich artistic heritage. Not only does it refer to culinary art, but it is the natural descendant of Latin "opera," the plural of opus "work" which, in the phrase opus magnum "great work," refers to the most important work of any artist. (Speaking of which, we must recognize the great work of our old friend Dr. Richard R. Everson, who prompted us to write up today's word and as he has so many others.)
—Dr. Language, yourDictionary.com

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