Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Day for August 11, 2019 is:

démarche • day-MARSH  • noun

1 a : a course of action : maneuver

b : a diplomatic or political initiative or maneuver

2 : a petition or protest presented through diplomatic channels


“On Feb. 23, less than a week after the U.S. démarche to the Cuban government, DeLaurentis accompanied two visiting U.S. senators … to see President Raúl Castro at the Palace of the Revolution.” — Tim Golden and Sebastian Rotella, ProPublica, 14 Feb. 2018

“European Union foreign ministers … will also issue a demarche—a formal diplomatic protest note—to Moscow as early as next week over Russia’s continued detention of 24 Ukrainian sailors captured in the November incident, they added.” — The Washington Post, 25 Jan. 2019

Did you know?

When it comes to international diplomacy, the French may not always have the last word—but they have quite a few, many of which they’ve shared with English. We began using démarche—which in French can mean “gait,” “walk,” or “action,” among other things—in the 17th century. It was first used generally in the sense of “a maneuver,” and before long it developed a specific use in the world of diplomacy. Some of the other diplomacy-related words we use that come from French include attaché, chargé d’affaires, communiqué, détente, and agrément—not to mention the words diplomacy and diplomat themselves.

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