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From Middle English demuren, from Anglo-Norman demorer (French demeurer), from Vulgar Latin demorō, Latin demoror (to tarry), from de- + moror (to delay).[1]

See alternative etymology in the Anglo-Norman ancestor.


Distinguish from pronunciation of demure
  • (file)


demur (third-person singular simple present demurs, present participle demurring, simple past and past participle demurred)

  1. (intransitive, obsolete) To linger; to stay; to tarry
  2. (intransitive) To delay; to pause; to suspend proceedings or judgment in view of a doubt or difficulty; to hesitate; to put off the determination or conclusion of an affair.
    • 1630, John Hayward, The Life and Raigne of King Edward the Sixth:
      Vpon this rubbe the English Embassadors thought fit to demurre
    • 1920, [Elizabeth von Arnim], In the Mountains, Garden City, New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, page 180:
      Work with my hands out of doors was the only thing I felt I could bear to-day. It wasn't the first time, I reflected, that peace has been found among cabbages. / Antoine demurred, of course, but did at last consent to let me pick red currants.
  3. (intransitive) To scruple or object; to take exception; to oppose; to balk
    I demur to that statement.
    The personnel demurred at the management's new scheme.
  4. (intransitive, law) To interpose a demurrer.
  5. (transitive, obsolete) To suspend judgment concerning; to doubt of or hesitate about
    • 1667, John Milton, “Book IX”, in Paradise Lost. [], London: [] [Samuel Simmons], [], →OCLC; republished as Paradise Lost in Ten Books: [], London: Basil Montagu Pickering [], 1873, →OCLC:
      The latter I demur, for in their looks / Much reason, and in their actions, oft appears.
  6. (transitive, obsolete) To cause delay to; to put off
    • 1635, Fra[ncis] Quarles, “Canto XI. Cant[icles] III. II.”, in Emblemes, London: [] G[eorge] M[iller] and sold at at Iohn Marriots shope [], →OCLC, book IV, stanza 4, page 226:
      I ask'd the Lavvyer; He demands a Fee, / And then demurres me vvith a vaine delay: []

Related terms[edit]



demur (plural demurs)

  1. An act of hesitation as to proceeding; a scruple; also, a suspension of action or decision; a pause, a stop.
    • 1647, Theodore de la Guard [pseudonym; Nathaniel Ward], The Simple Cobler of Aggawam in America. [], London: [] J[ohn] D[ever] & R[obert] I[bbitson] for Stephen Bowtell, [], →OCLC, page 37:
      If publique Aſſemblies of Divines cannot agree upon a right vvay, private Conventicles of illeterate men, vvill ſoon finde a vvrong. Bivious demurres breed devious reſolutions. Paſſengers to heaven are in haſte, and vvill vvalk one vvay or other.
    • 1735 January 13 (Gregorian calendar; indicated as 1734), [Alexander] Pope, An Epistle from Mr. Pope, to Dr. Arbuthnot, London: [] J[ohn] Wright for Lawton Gilliver [], →OCLC, page 4, lines 65–66:
      All my demurrs but double his attacks; / At laſt he vvhiſpers, "Do; and vve go ſnacks."
    • 2004, Richard Fortey, The Earth, Folio Society, published 2011, page 132:
      Most geologists today would accept such evidence without demur, but it was still ‘fringe’ science when du Toit was publishing.



  1. ^ demur” Webster's dictionary





  1. first-person plural present passive subjunctive of

Middle English[edit]



  1. Alternative form of demure (demure)