Pronunciation: [or DERV]
Small savory appetizers served before the meal, customarily with apéritifs or cocktails. They are usually one- or two-bite size and can be cold or hot. Hors d'oeuvre may be in the form of fancy canapé or as simple as a selection of crudités. The word "hors d'oeuvre" is properly used for both the singular and plural forms. The reason is that the term translates literally as (dishes) "outside the work (meal)" and no matter how many dishes there are, there is only one "work." In today's modern parlance, however, the plural is often spoken and written as hors d'oeuvres.
From The Food Lover's Companion, Fourth edition by Sharon Tyler Herbst and Ron Herbst. Copyright © 2007, 2001, 1995, 1990 by Barron's Educational Series, Inc.