The U.S Republican party said that Americans were deeply humbled and strongly demurred to their hasty surrender in Afghanistan. The demure politicians of the Democratic Party tried to avoid discussion on the topic altogether.

The words ‘demur’ and ‘demure’ may seem related and are often mistaken for each other due to the similarity in their spellings. However, ‘demur’ doesn’t sound like ‘demure’, neither do the words share a common meaning. In fact, both of these words belong to different parts of speech.

‘Demur’ is a verb that means to object, refuse or show dissent. ‘Demure’ is an adjective that means modest, shy, or retiring in nature. If a person disagrees with a political decision, he is demurring to it. However, if a person has a shy or reserved personality, he is said to be a demure person.

Demur vs demure – definitions, uses, and example sentences

Definition of demur

The word ‘demur’ is pronounced ‘duh-muh’. It is an intransitive verb and is often used with the preposition ‘at’ or ‘to’. It can be defined as opposing, raising an objection, or showing disagreement with someone or something. It can also mean showing hesitance or having second thoughts about something; although this meaning is seldom intended. Moreover, as a noun it refers to the act of objecting, disagreeing, or disinclining from something, like a civil decision or political reform, in order to retard or halt its progress is called a demur. The synonyms of this word are, ‘protest’, ‘dissent’, and ‘object’.

Example sentences of demur

  • Prior to the US invasion of Iraq in 2004, one-quarter of the British parliament demurred to Britain’s participation.

In the first sentence, the verb ‘demur’ is used with the preposition ‘to’ to represent the British objection as well as reluctance to join the American war.

  • Prominent psychologist and internet celebrity Jordan Peterson demurs to the proposition of including compelled speech regarding trans-genders into law.

Here, the verb ‘demur’ is used in the meaning of ‘intensely objects or actively opposes’. The subject, professor JP, actively opposes a law that legalizes compelled speech.

  • After the 1992 Scam in India, many small-time investors demurred taking advice from new brokers, seeing them as potential fraudsters.

In the last sentence, the verb ‘demure’ is used to represent reluctance or hesitance of small-time investors in trusting new and unreputed brokers.

Definition of demure

Demure is pronounced ‘duh-myuor’. It is an adjective, thus unlike the word ‘demur’, represents a quality or trait. It can be defined as the quality of being coy, modest, or reserved as part of one’s personality. This word is typically used to describe ladylike qualities or a woman of such traits. ‘Demure’ can also refer to a similar quality of maturity or sobriety, representing seriousness or gravity in character. The latter meaning, unlike the former, is gender non-specific. Words carrying a similar meaning include ‘coy’ and ‘shy’ in the former sense and ‘sober’ and ‘decorous’ in the latter.

Example sentences of demure

  • Cinema fans often find it strange that their favorite celebrities, who play bold and outgoing characters on the screen, are surprisingly demure in real life.

In the first sentence, the adjective ‘demur’ is used to qualify the noun ‘celebrities’. Cinema fans find it extraordinary that  bold celebrities who appear extroverted on stage possess a shy inner character and an introverted personality. Some even have such an element of shyness that they have a tendency to step away from the spotlight despite their contrasting profession.

Jane Austen, the critically acclaimed novelist of the 18th century, wrote female characters that were progressive and outspoken- in a society that only tolerated demure young women.

Here, the female characters from Jane Austen’s novels are described as opposite to the contemporary female perception to highlight the word’s meaning. Jane Austen is a renowned novelist from the 18th century. She wrote extraordinary female characters at a time when only a shy persona of females was accepted.

Marie Curie, who won the Nobel Prize in 1911, casually used to dress in demure full-length, black-colored dresses.

In the last sentence, the word ‘demure’ is used to qualify the noun ‘dress’ signifying that the word can be used to describe nouns  like fashion, clothes and make-up. Demure here sheds light on modest type of clothing that was marked with black colored long robes.


The words ‘demur’ and ‘demure’ may have an overlapping etymology, but they are neither homophones neither homonyms. ‘Demur’ is a verb that refers to objecting to or resisting something or acting in a reluctant manner. ‘Demure’ is an adjective that describes someone having a shy or quiet nature or something, like an article of clothing or a person’s habit, that appears modest. Remember that ‘demur’ rhymes with ‘differ’; thus demur means to differ with someone or from an idea. As for the word ‘demure’, associate it with the rhyming word ‘immure’ meaning to imprison someone, reflecting the reserved and closed-off personality of a ‘demure’ person. We hope you don’t demur to this far-fetched mnemonic as this was but a demure attempt!