AskDefine | Define devoir

Dictionary Definition

devoir n : formal expression of respect

User Contributed Dictionary

see devoirs



From deveir (French devoir), from Latin debere ‘to owe’.




  1. Duty, business; something which one must do.
    • 1603, John Florio, translating Michel de Montaigne, Essays, vol. 1 p. 149:
      he imprint not so much in his schollers mind [...] where Marcellus died, as because he was unworthy of his devoire he died there [...].
    • 1885, Sir Richard Burton, The Book of the Thousand Nights and a Night, vol. 1:
      Then quoth the portress to the mistress of the house, "O my lady, arise and go to thy place that I in turn may do my devoir."



deveir, from debere ‘must’.


  • /dǝvwaʁ/, /d@.vwaR/


fr-noun m
  1. duty
  2. exercise (set for homework)


  1. must, to have to


  • The past participle drops the circumflex accent in its other forms: feminine singular due; masculine plural dus; feminine plural dues.

See also

Extensive Definition

Le Devoir is a French-language newspaper published in Montreal and distributed in Quebec and the rest of Canada. It was founded by journalist, politician and nationalist Henri Bourassa in 1910. It is a respected, intellectual newspaper of record in Quebec.
In recent times, Le Devoir has favoured sovereignty for Quebec and social democracy. It is noted for being the only independent large-circulation newspaper in Quebec amongst a market dominated by the media conglomerates of Gesca Limitée (including La Presse) and Quebecor (including Le Journal de Montréal).
Le Devoir is effectively the French language equivalent to national newspapers such as The Globe and Mail and the National Post, although it has only a modest circulation outside of Quebec and tends to focus largely on the events and issues shaping Québécois society.


Henri Bourassa, a young and promising Liberal Party MP from Montreal, rose to national prominence in 1899 when he resigned his seat in Parliament in protest at the Liberal government's decision to send troops to support the British in the South African War of 1899-1902. Bourassa was opposed to all Canadian participation in British wars and would go on to become a key figure in fighting for an independent Canadian foreign policy. He is considered both a forebear of French Canadian nationalists as well as a Canadian nationalist more generally. He was also an early promoter of the bicultural Anglo-French conception of Canada, and an impassioned advocate for the political and cultural equality of all French Canadians within Confederation, wherever they may reside.
In 1910 he founded Le Devoir as an outlet for his anti-imperialist Ligue nationaliste and to fight for the rights of French Canadians within Confederation. In its maiden edition, published January 10, 1910, Bourassa explained the name and mission of the newspaper thus: "To ensure the triumph of ideas over appetites, of the public good over partisan interests, there is but one means: awake in the people, and above all in the ruling classes, a sense of public duty in all its forms: religious duty, national duty, civic duty."
Bourassa headed the newspaper until August 3, 1932 when he was replaced by Georges Pelletier. After the death of Pelletier in early 1947, the role of editor-in-chief would pass to Gérard Filion, ex-editor of La Terre de chez nous, under whose reign the paper would publish highly controversial critiques of Maurice Duplessis's government in Quebec by journalists and figures such as André Laurendeau. Claude Ryan, a federalist, took the helm in 1964, followed by Jean-Louis Roy in 1980 and Benoit Lauzière in 1986. In 1990 the paper got its first woman editor-in-chief when Lise Bissonnette succeeded Lauzière, firmly establishing the paper's sovereignist orientation following the federalist years of Ryan and his successors. She would continue on in her post until 1998, with the current editor-in-chief, Bernard Descôteaux, taking over the following year.
While the paper has in recent times becomes associated with the Quebec nationalist movement, it is important to note that Bourassa himself was in fact opposed to the notion of a separate territorial entity for the majority French-speaking province, believing instead in an Anglo-French conception of Canada in which French-speaking Canadians would see their culture recognized as equal and protected and encouraged from coast to coast. Instances of this view can be found in both his campaign for Franco-Ontarian rights as well as his ardent opposition to controversial priest and historian Lionel Groulx in the 1920s following Groulx's musing on the possibility and desirability of a separate Quebec state. . This said, the history of Le Devoir would become characterized by varying phases (as well as shades) of French Canadian and later Québécois nationalism, opening its pages in the troubled 1930s to Groulx and his followers, yet seeing a federalist at its helm in 1964 in the form of Claude Ryan, who in 1978 would go on to become leader of the federalist Quebec Liberal Party.
Ideologically, Le Devoir has been a chief voice against military intervention and in favour of pacifism and social democracy, opposing conscription in World War II (see Conscription Crisis of 1944) and endorsing, under federalist Ryan's tenure, the election of René Lévesque's new socialist-inspired Parti Québécois in the 1976 election, despite its platform centred on Québécois nationalism. Generally considered one of the best and most prestigious newspapers in Canada - as well as the paper of the Québec intellectual class - it has gained a particularly strong reputation for its excellent international coverage and insightful and poignant commentary.


It has a relatively low circulation of about 34,000 on weekdays and 58,000 on Saturdays, but is widely considered very influential and the most respected intellectual newspaper of Quebec. Its financial situation has often been precarious, and recent years are no exception: in 2002, it had revenues of $14,376,530, with a meagre profit of $13,524, while the previous year it had made a small loss.

Other information

The newspaper's slogan is "Fais ce que dois" (Do what [you] must). "Le Devoir" means "the duty" in French. In 1993 and 1994, the Society of News Design called Le Devoir the world's most beautiful newspaper.


External links

devoir in German: Le Devoir
devoir in Spanish: Le Devoir
devoir in French: Le Devoir
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