Demure and Demur are two words that are easily confused, though each means something slightly different. Demure is used as an adjective for someone who is quiet, reserved, modest, or quiet and who shows some reluctance to show themselves off. Alas, for too long demure was considered the ideal compliment for a woman to receive, and to that I really must demur. Yeah, you see what I just did there, hehe. Demur (without the e) is a verb or noun since it means to object, protest, or take exception to. While I don’t think that being demure is a negative thing (it is a distinct personality trait) and I know I can be rather demure at times, I really do feel that it’s not a feminine ideal – that is where my demurring with it comes in. Confusing, the words I mean, yet it does make sense. The pronunciation of each is a bit different, too, since demure sounds like de-myure (some say their is a kittenish “mew” sound at the second syllable, which I suppose is true) while demur sounds like de-mur.
While the lovely lady on the left wears a rather demure expression on her face, she defies the stereotypical “demure woman” box and I have to say that I think Beverly Garland’s whole demeanor glamorously says “I demur to the whole demure is how a lady should be attitude.“!
Words like demure and demur show just how complex and fascinating our language is, and just how dated and nuanced it can be. What do you think?
Namaste ~ Ella
** If there’s a word you’d like to see added to the Word Nerd roster, please feel free to drop me a line or suggest it in the comments – I love feedback and recommendations!