Part of speech:
(Countable nouns, like “bottle,” “piece,” and “decision,” are words for things that can be broken into exact units. You talk about “a bottle,” “three pieces,” and “many decisions.”
Likewise, talk about one raison d'etre or multiple raisons d'etre.)
Someone or something's raison d'etre is the reason for being. In other words, your raison d'etre is your reason for existing, and something's raison d'etre is its main purpose or its justification for existing.
The plural is "raisons d'etre" ("RAY zonz DET ruh.")
Follow the pronunciation links above to hear it, too.
How to use it:
As with other fancy words and foreign phrases we've taken a look at, your good judgment will tell you when it's appropriate to drop this fabulous term into conversation.
Talk about a person's raison d'etre ("Playing the piano is his raison d'etre"), a group's raison d'etre ("The association's raison d'etre is getting locally sourced foods to local people") or a thing's raison d'etre ("Let's get down to the raison d'etre for this entire case.")
I love Scrabble and everything, but it's not like it's my raison d'etre. Maybe it is for Nigel Richards, the tournament champion--I heard he's actually memorized the entire Scrabble dictionary. (That is amazing!)
If you're a parent, too, then you've probably also made the tender observation that you and your child are each other's raison d'etre.
Look away from the screen to explain the definition in your own words. You’ll know you understand what "raison d'etre" means when you can explain it without saying “major purpose" or "rationale."
Think of a group or company that you admire, and fill in the blanks: "(Group or Company)'s raison d'etre seems to be (accomplishing something specific)."
Example: "The Elton John AIDS Foundation's raison d'etre seems to be not just fighting the disease but also counteracting the injustice that often accompanies it."
Spend at least 20 seconds occupying your mind with the game and quote below. Then try the review questions. Don’t go straight to the review now—let your working memory empty out first.
Playing With Words:
Our game for July is called A Verbal Tour of the US. I’ll ask you a trivia question each day this month about the names of US cities, states, geographic features, etc. Try it out each day, and see the right answer the next day. Happy verbal trails to you!
This city’s name is said to combine “mni,” meaning “water” in Dakota Sioux, with the Greek word for “city.” It’s home to a waterfall which is named for the patron saint of finding lost things! What city is it?
Answer: Minneapolis, home to Saint Anthony Falls.
Try this one today:
A village and town in New York, a valley in Vermont and New York, a lake in that region, a river tributary, and a bunch of places in Canada are all probably named after this one French explorer, Samuel de Ch_______. He was also known as The Father of New France. What was his full name?
A Point Well Made:
Robin Wall Kimmerer: “[Goblins’ Gold, a type of moss]’s life and ours exist only because of a myriad of synchronicities that bring us to this particular place at this particular moment. In return for such a gift, the only sane response is to glitter in reply.”
1. The opposite of RAISON D'ETRE is
A. REASON FOR ADAPTING
B. REASON FOR QUITTING
C. REASON FOR OFFENDING
2. If _____, then what exactly is your campaign's raison d'etre?
A. you have no expectation of winning your party's nomination
B. your plan for raising funds hasn't fully come to fruition
C. your supporters are already chanting your motto
Answers are below.
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Make Your Point is crafted with love and brought to you each day for free by Mrs. Liesl Johnson, M.Ed., a word lover, learning enthusiast, and private tutor of reading and writing in the verdant little town of Hilo, Hawaii. For writing tips, online learning, essay guidance, and more, please visit www.HiloTutor.com.
Disclaimer: Word meanings presented here are expressed in plain language and are limited to common, useful applications only. Readers interested in authoritative and multiple definitions of words are encouraged to check a dictionary. Likewise, word meanings, usage, and pronunciations are limited to American English; these elements may vary across world Englishes.
Answers to review questions:
Highly recommended fantasy reads:
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