from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An act or expression of respect or courtesy; civility. Often used in the plural: pay one's devoirs.
  • n. Duty or responsibility.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. Duty, business; something which one must do.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Duty; service owed; hence, due act of civility or respect; -- now usually in the plural.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Duty or service; hence, an act of civility or respect; respectful notice due to another: as, we paid our devoirs to our host.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. formal expression of respect


Middle English, duty, from Old French, from devoir, to owe, from Latin dēbēre; see ghabh- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Old French deveir (French devoir), from Latin debere ("to owe") (Wiktionary)


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