dour (dr, dour)
adj. dour·er, dour·est
1. Marked by sternness or harshness; forbidding: a dour, self-sacrificing life.
2. Silently ill-humored; gloomy: the proverbially dour New England Puritan.
3. Sternly obstinate; unyielding: a dour determination.
[Middle English, possibly from Middle Irish dúr, probably from Latin dūrus, hard; see deru- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
Usage Note: The word dour, which is etymologically related to duress and endure, traditionally rhymes with tour. The pronunciation that rhymes with sour is a standard variant that has been in use for more than a century. In our 1996 survey, 65 percent of the Usage Panel preferred the traditional pronunciation, and 33 percent preferred the variant. In our 2011 survey, opinion was almost evenly split, with 52 percent preferring the traditional pronunciation and 48 percent preferring the variant. These results suggest that the variant could overtake the traditional pronunciation in preference.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.
American Heritage Dictionary Products
The American Heritage Dictionary, 5th Edition
The American Heritage Dictionary of Idioms
The American Heritage Roget's Thesaurus
Curious George's Dictionary
The American Heritage Children's Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots
The American Heritage Student Grammar Dictionary
The American Heritage Desk Dictionary + Thesaurus
The American Heritage Science Dictionary
The American Heritage Dictionary of Business Terms
The American Heritage Student Dictionary
The American Heritage Essential Student Thesaurus