How Do You Spell Horderves?

How do you spell horderves?

The reason you’re likely here reading this article is you need to know the spelling of “horderves” and not knowing it, you simply sounded it out. While the word may sound like horderves, this is not the correct spelling. The correct spelling of horderves is hors d’oeuvres.

Of course, it’s not always necessary to know how to spell the foods you serve. Nobody is going to know you don’t know how to spell the word correctly when you say “horderves” as you place out appetizers. On the other hand, if you’re writing an article and happen to want to talk about the appetizers you served using the “cuisine” word, it becomes a little more important to know the correct spelling.

Borrowing from the French

If you go into the origins of common words, you’ll discover that borrowing from the French is not that unusual: “cuisine” is basically French for cooking. Hors d’oeuvres is another word we have borrowed from the French. Directly translated, “hors” means “except” and “oeuvres” means “works.” This may not initially seem too helpful, but if you assume that the main course is “the works,” and you interpret “hors” as meaning “outside,” the phrase basically means “outside the main course.”

Now you know something that most English-speaking people never stop to think about. Is it useful? Possibly. You’re now in the position to give any dinner guests you may have over this little gem of information.

What probably won’t make the grade as dinner table conversation is all the common misspellings for the word, but now that you know how it’s spelled, you’ll be able to see them everywhere. Some get the “hors” bit right as well as the “d” and its apostrophe, but then they spoil it by spelling the last bit as “oueveres” for hors d’oueveres. You’ll be amazed at the number of permutations.

Perhaps one day, we’ll adopt the word into the English language by changing the spelling to one that makes more sense to us, in which case, it’ll likely become “horderves” or “orderves.”

Taking It to the Next Level

Aside from the many dishes that can make up starters or hors d’oeuvres, you also get two ways of serving hors d’oeuvres. You can place the dishes on the table and let everyone help themselves, or you can have somebody pass the dish around allowing guests to select what they want to eat. Now you can make the distinction between “table” hors d’oeuvres and “butler-style” or “butlered” hors d’oeuvres.

Not Quite the Same as Hors D’Oeuvres

Now that you know how to use this chic French word to describe starters, you need to be careful that you don’t get muddled up and use it in the wrong place. It will spoil the great impression you’ll make by knowing how to spell the word, how to serve them and what the French words actually mean.

Canapes are not hors d’oeuvres. Instead of being foods you use to start off a meal, they’re savory finger-snacks that are served at cocktail hour.

Antipasto is also not the same as hors d’oeuvres. Although it consists of a range of dishes served before a meal, the style will be Italian, and antipasto is always served at the table. You can still call it a starter, and if you want to use French, you could call it an entree.

A smorgasbord is also not the same as hors d’oeuvres. Like antipasto, it is served before the meal and consists of foods that are related to the Scandinavian culture from which the word has been borrowed.

You can now go forth and charm your dinner guests. You now not only know how to spell “hors d’oeuvres,” but how to serve them, what they are, and what they are not. Your culinary education may not be complete, but you’re off to a good start. At least you’ll never have to eat your words.

(Photo courtesy of Richard Munckton)

27 comments

  1. There are a lot of words like this that I see students misspelling time and again (although this is one of the more difficult ones). I keep a list of them in my class for all the students to see daily. I’m not sure how much it helps (they all seem to misspell them a lot anyway), but hopefully it does a bit.

    1. I don’t know of many adults that would be able to spell hors d’oeuvres correctly if you walked up to them and asked them to spell it. It’s simply not a common work in the English language that most people feel the need to know how to spell. This is the type of word that spellchecks were specifically created for.

  2. haha. I came to this article because the word is spelled wrong in the title and I thought the author had written an article while spelling the work incorrectly the entire time. I guess I can see how some would think it’s spelled that way if they just tried to sound it out.

    1. I did exactly the same thing. I looked at the title and I thought, “that’s not how you spell hors d’oeuvres” and was going to come here to comment, then saw that the article was correct even though the title of the article has its spelled incorrectly. I guess that makes sense because the people who need to know how to spell it likely don’t know how to spell it correctly and will just sound it out.

  3. Good post. I think this one gives people a lot of trouble because it’s not an true English word so it doesn’t look like how an English word would be spelled.

  4. This article could easily be summed up in a single sentence: “The correct spelling of horderves is hors d’oeuvres.” Everything else is unneeded fluff.

    1. This is true if all you care about is the spelling of the word. If you’re interested in a bit of the background of how if became a part of English and what it means, then you need more than that single sentence. I personally enjoyed the article and I learned some new things from it.

  5. This is another huge problem with our country. Instead of just using English words, we start to use foreign language words in the US. This is America. We speak English in America. We don’t need foreign words coming into this country. Of course, nobody knows how to spell this word. There’s no reason to because a foreign word shouldn’t be in the English language in the first place.

    1. Language is ever evolving and borrows from all different types of languages. There are tons of words like these that aren’t originally English but have been incorporated into the English language. An easy example of this would be tsunami which means great wave of Japanese and we use instead of tidal wave these days since it’s more accurate. The English language would not be nearly as dynamic and used as much is it is all over the world if it were static and didn’t incorporate other words from other languages. Hors d’oeuvres is just one example of this.

    2. This is why are country is going to crap. Where do you think all the words in the English language came from? You think the people sailed across the Atlantic Ocean and created a new alphabet and words just for the United States? All languages borrow words from other languages. That’s how they grow.

    3. Are you for real? If you were to stop saying all words of “foreign” origins within the English language, you wouldn’t be able to say anything!

    1. I agree. That was much more in depth than I anticipated it would be. Always good when you are looking for a simple spelling and you come away with more knowledge about the topic at hand.

  6. Well, I think the main point to observe here is that we live in America… And it’s spelled thus; Horderves. In fact I’ll even do you one better; Orderves. ‘Merica.

  7. My prediction is that because most people can’t spell this word correctly, hors d’oeuvres will eventually become horderves — sad, but true.

      1. I won’t be holding my breath! Kids don’t read anymore, and forget about writing in any language. Everything is abbreviated on some form of electronic pad. The written word is so beautiful that this saddens me.

          1. I don’t necessarily agree with you. Language used to be beautiful. People used to treat each other with respect in those days. And it’s no wonder the French don’t like the Americans, considering how we have bastardized their language.

          2. @Vasudha

            Language has always been vulgar and beautiful. One generation of it has never been more or less than another, just expressed differently. You seem to be romanticizing the past when language was just as vulgar as it is today.

  8. Well then, if you believe in the evolution of etymology like I do, you should be on board with me. Show both examples to a kid learning to read and tell them to sound it out.

  9. Just a stupid word that is meant to confuse people. If it isn’t spelled like it should sound, it shouldn’t be part of English.

  10. This blog post seems real cheeky but it was the top result on Google and it got me the answer I needed. I also learned a thing or two. Thanks!

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