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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1724, "opening piece of an opera or ballet," from French entrée, from Old French entree (see entry). Cookery sense is from 1759; originally the dish which was introductory to the main course. Meaning "entry, freedom of access" is from 1762. The word had been borrowed in Middle English as entre "act of entering."


n. (alt form entrée English)

  1. n. the principal dish of a meal [syn: main course]

  2. the right to enter [syn: access, accession, admittance]

  3. something that provides access (entry or exit); "they waited at the entrance to the garden"; "beggars waited just outside the entryway to the cathedral" [syn: entrance, entranceway, entryway, entry]

  4. the act of entering; "she made a graceful entree into the ballroom"


An entrée ( ; French for "entrance", ) refers to types of dishes.

In French cuisine, as well as in the English-speaking world (save for the United States and parts of Canada), it is a dish served before the main course, or between two principal courses of a meal.

In North American English, the term retains an older meaning describing a heavy, meat course, due to the disappearance in the early 20th century of a large communal main course, such as a roast, as a standard part of the meal in the English-speaking world. This use of the term is almost unheard of outside North America, as most other English speakers follow contemporary French usage, generally considering the word "entrée" to mean a first course.

In 1961 Julia Child and her co-authors outlined the character of such entrées, which – when they did not precede a roast – might serve as the main course of a luncheon, in a chapter of "Entrées and Luncheon Dishes" that included quiches, tarts and gratins, soufflés and timbales, gnocchi, quenelles and crêpes.

In 1970, Richard Olney, an American living in Paris, gave the place of the entrée in a French full menu: "A dinner that begins with a soup and runs through a fish course, an entrée, a sorbet, a roast, salad, cheese and dessert, and that may be accompanied by from three to six wines, presents a special problem of orchestration".

Entrée (disambiguation)

In French cuisine, an entrée is a prelude to a larger course within a single meal.

Other uses include:

  • A North American synonym for the main course
  • Entrée (ballet), an entrance
  • European Network for Training and Research in Electrical Engineering, often abbreviated to ENTREE
  • ENTREE Travel Newsletter, a travel newsletter established 1981

Usage examples of "entree".

His fragile expectations would inevitably dampen as she attacked her salad, flickered as she swallowed garlic escarole with vulgar relish, guttered with the entree, and died over brandy and cheese.

The science of inherited characteristics was only my jumping-off metaphor, an entree into what until then had been neutral material.

He would return to the cafeteria, thaw himself an Entree for One in the microwave.

But the missing piece of the coding problem offers entree to another processlines, deltas.

The meal was an excellent one, consisting of soup, boiled beef, an entree, and a roast.

Her fork balanced in a firm hand, Pristine studied the entree, turned it this way and that in the manner of an inquisitive coroner, then, resigned that the chef could come no closer to her ideals, speared, chewed, and reluctantly swallowed.

Even within the confines dictated by a white-meat entree, there were nuances of choice.

Regardless of where the money had come from, it had gained him an entree with the less discriminating members of fashionable society.

But then Balachandran presented his entree plate from a different compartment of the buffet.

Mark unfolded his napkin and helped himself to the delicious-looking entree Ellen had prepared.

She wanted to be the entree, the main course, the principal dish, something so substantial and so satisfying that he would never desire a sweet again.

Wilmont did deign to make an appearance, his impeccable family ties allowed him entree into the tight-knit and somewhat hypocritical world of London society.

I had expected when Eric had told me someone who owed him a favor would be my entree into the Mississippi vampire milieu.

You are guaranteed that you will never taste the same entree in a calender year and, if you own a winery or distillery, your table will be supplied with the best you have to offer.

Larissa imagined heated desire in them when he was only admiring her beauty over the entree, well, that was to his good.