Definition of demure in US English:



  • 1(of a woman or her behavior) reserved, modest, and shy.

    ‘I shared a compartment with a child and his demure governess’
    • ‘Dårlig is a small, white slip behind him, radiant, demure, almost embarrassed by the attention she and her husband are receiving.’
    • ‘Rivka's desire is rebellious and demonstrates a strong will hidden beyond a demure and feminine modesty.’
    • ‘The long skirts, the burkhas, the demure looks, the curled tresses, the composure, the sensuality, the shy glance - these are all so hauntingly remindful of a bygone era.’
    • ‘We saw them transformed from calm, demure ladies to bears protecting their cubs when the neighborhood bully was on our heels.’
    • ‘She taught her how to act polite, demure, obedient and respectful.’
    • ‘The one person who evokes sympathy is Bruce's demure wife.’
    • ‘I mean, I thought I'd get nice, small questions from quiet, demure girls that would be too shy to ask anything, really.’
    • ‘A short, demure girl stepped away from the teacher, her hands nervously clasped in front of her.’
    • ‘Pierre's own Chagall in this show is a Paris canvas of 1911, The betrothed, an evocation of the artist's fiancée in Russia dressed as a demure veiled bride.’
    • ‘Beatrice was demure, reserved, enjoyed those tedious dinner parties of state, and seemed content to spend her afternoons bent over needlework.’
    • ‘Piper had always been perceived as demure, innocent, sweet.’
    • ‘How could she be so demure one second, and such a raging animal the next?’
    • ‘She was the lone female wrestler of the evening but she was not your average demure lady.’
    • ‘I'd intended to be mature and sedate and demure and just wistfully watch the young guests from afar.’
    • ‘They were all speechless, ignoring the delicious food before them, and watched the demure girl glide across the floor towards the zither.’
    • ‘One otherwise perfectly demure woman jumped onto a chair, gesturing frantically.’
    • ‘He had heard it said that her innocent demeanour combined with her intelligent mind made her a refreshing change from mindlessly demure damsels.’
    • ‘The wife of the first son is demure and timid, but the wife of the second son answers back to the cousin.’
    • ‘She approached them steadily, trying to remember to be a demure and proper young lady.’
    • ‘The small demure woman who had taken her letter led Miri through a narrow hallway, which sloped downward and seemed to shrink as they progressed down it.’
    modest, unassuming, meek, mild, reserved, retiring, quiet, shy, bashful, diffident, reticent, timid, timorous, shrinking
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 (of clothing) lending a modest appearance.
      • ‘Judith's virtue is indicated by the demure clothing and veil that cover her from head to toe while Holofernes, in contrast, is almost naked.’
      • ‘Today his shirt is a demure cream colour, and his pants are beige, with a funny cut from two generations ago.’
      • ‘While the red dress was provocative and outrageous, this dress was demure and conservative, not exposing much of anything.’
      • ‘It had straps, so it showed a bit of her shoulders, but the dress was demure.’
      • ‘Sipping a coffee and wearing a demure blue shirt, she does not look like a woman who has influenced a world leader.’
      • ‘Delicious and demure the dress is successfully re-mastered in a season where soft femininity is the story of the day.’
      • ‘A demure figure in gloves and lace-trimmed dress, the queen is rising from her throne, revealing a small foot.’
      • ‘Sure she was wiry, but her businesslike combination of grey slacks and white blouse suggested someone quite demure.’
      • ‘On that occasion she relentlessly scrounged, albeit in a sweetly demure fashion, cigarettes from all and sundry, suggesting a certain profligacy towards other people's property.’
      • ‘Above the demure neckline of the simply cut dress, the girl's face was a pale oval.’
      • ‘The dress was made of white Duchesse satin and had a form-fitting bodice with a demure boat neckline.’
      • ‘While she wore a modest and demure navy blue business suit, it was readily apparent that she was quite a lovely lady.’
      • ‘Anne, looking demure in a little black dress, took the microphone in front of a backdrop advertising Herriot Country to thank voters for her increased majority.’
      • ‘Was I supposed to find something appropriately frilly and covered in sequins, or should I wear something demure and modest?’
      • ‘She's wearing a green plaid top, rather like the top half of a business suit, that manages to be both demure and revealing.’
      • ‘Yokes and sleeves are obvious choices for a peek-a-boo look, and for evening or vacation wear, consider a midriff inset in a seductive sheer or demure lace.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘sober, serious, reserved’): perhaps from Old French demoure, past participle of demourer ‘remain’ (see demur); influenced by Old French mur ‘grave’, from Latin maturus ‘ripe or mature’. The sense ‘reserved, shy’ dates from the late 17th century.