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dour (dr, dour)
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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.]

dourly adv.
dourness n.

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.
 

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