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devoir (duh-VWAR) noun

1. Duty; responsibility.

2. An act of respect or courtesy.

[From Middle English devoir (duty), from Old French, from Latin debere (to owe). Ultimately from Indo-European root ghebh- (to give or receive) that is also the forefather of such words as give, have, endeavor, handle, able, and duty.]

See more usage examples of devoir in Vocabulary.com's dictionary.

"There are no new revelations in these books but the authors have done their devoir." Alice Thomas Ellis; I Don't Know How They Did It; The Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Oct 19, 2002.

"The famous dictum attributed to P.T. Barnum, that there's a sucker born every minute, has often been validated, but five of them on the same City Council? As an experience-hardened, moderately cynical politician, I am forced by this embarrassing piece of colossal bumbling to pay my devoir to Friedrich von Schiller's lament: 'Against stupidity, the very gods themselves contend in vain.'" Public Pulse; Omaha World-Herald (Nebraska); Sep 9, 2001.

This week's theme: unusual words.


As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances there is a twilight when everything remains seemingly unchanged. And it is in such twilight that we all must be most aware of change in the air - however slight - lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. -William O. Douglas, judge (1898-1980)

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