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Difference Between Hors d'oeuvres vs. Appetizers

Burning Question: Aren't Hors d'oeuvres Just Appetizers?

Finger foods, starters, appetizers, hors d'oeuvres: call them what you will, but in the days leading up to yet another New Year's Eve celebration, they've been the talk of every media outlet food section. In reading them all and planning my own Saturday festivities, I've come to wonder: is there a difference between appetizers and hors d'oeuvres?

Although both are meant to foster an appetite and they're listed as the same thing in Wikipedia, there is a subtle difference between the two courses. The French term hors d'œuvre (pronounced "or-derves"), which literally means "out of work" but translates to "outside the meal," is a one-bite item that's either stationary or passed and served separate from or prior to a meal.

This means an hors d'oeuvre is typically finger food and might refer to, among other items, canapés, crudités, deviled eggs, and bruschetta. Appetizers, on the other hand, appear as the first courses when seated at the table. They're often slightly larger and composed in a way that complements the entrée and dessert courses to follow. Which do you prefer — or is it all the same to you?

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hanmeng hanmeng 4 years
...and in Paris, at least, hors d'oeuvres are indeed appetizers served at the table.
hanmeng hanmeng 4 years
What a language lesson gone wrong! As others have noted, "oeuvre" means "work", but as in "work of art", so literally "hors d'oeuvres" means something like "outside the work of art". It does not literally mean "out of work". As for how to pronounce it, what about the French "r"?
Gabriela-Une-Vie-Saine Gabriela-Une-Vie-Saine 4 years
I prefer hors d'oeuvres because they tend to be smaller and more fun, so you get to taste lots of different things. It's neat that it means "outside the work"...makes food feel like a work of art!
Pampire Pampire 6 years
Appetizers are larger and hors d'oeuvres are finger foods, something you can eat in one bite or two.IMO
jestergirl jestergirl 6 years
Huh, that's an interesting bit of trivia....
cotedazur cotedazur 6 years
I think it's funny that in French, "entrée" means "appetizer," but in English people use "entrée" to mean "main dish." (Especially since entrée literally means entry, so should be at the beginning of the meal.) I wouldn't really say that hors d'oeuvre means out of work ... it really means outside of the work, which is why it's not the same as an appetizer. Your appetizer and main dish should coordinate, but because the hors d'oeuvres are OUTSIDE of the meal, you can serve whatever you wish.
Leilanic1 Leilanic1 6 years
ignore the spelling errors please...:) i guess it is one of my pet peeves lately. that people have parties yet have everyone else provide the liquor and food...
Leilanic1 Leilanic1 6 years
so heres one to ponder. i got invited to a housewarming party tonight (new years eve) and the invite said to bring hordouevere and a drink of choice. which i did but it made me it really another person's party if you are bringing both the hordoeivre and the alcoholic beverage. i have heard of one or the other but both? i thought it was odd.
AmberHoney AmberHoney 6 years
Ooohhh, I just love these sorta things; plus hors d'oeuvres are so much more fun to say. Happy New Year!
NurseKimberly NurseKimberly 6 years
Spectra Spectra 6 years
Huh, that's very interesting. I always thought they were one and the same thing. I guess I figured that hors d'oeuvres were slightly fancier, but that's the only difference I thought there was.
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