Word: demure

Pronunciation: di-MYUR

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: reserved, modest, and shy

Source: Oxford Dictionaries

Here’s another word pulled from the list of 100 most beautiful words in English. This one’s a little closer to home, since I could easily use it to describe myself. Anyone who knows me in person can testify to the fact that I’m extremely shy and reserved, so if you’re like me (or know a woman like me), then “demure” is a good word for you to know too!

A “demure” woman is modest and reserved in her behavior. The word arose in late Middle English in the sense “sober” or “serious”, and can be traced back to the Old French adjective meur, meaning “mature”. This adjective stems from the Latin adjective maturus, which means “mature” or “ripe”.

It’s worth noting that “demure” can also be used to describe clothing that lends a modest appearance to its wearer. Despite having the same etymological origin, it shouldn’t be confused with the verb “demur”, which means “raise doubts or objections or show reluctance”. According to Oxford Dictionaries, “demure” refers to the behavior of a woman, though I suppose it’s up to a writer’s discretion whether or not to use it as a gender-neutral adjective. If you draw inspiration from people who are modest and shy, you may have some “demure” characters in your stories!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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