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raison d'être

[rey-zohn de-truh; French re-zawn de-truh] /ˈreɪ zoʊn ˈdɛ trə; French rɛ zɔ̃ ˈdɛ trə/
noun, plural raisons d'être
[rey-zohnz de-truh; French re-zawn de-truh] /ˈreɪ zoʊnz ˈdɛ trə; French rɛ zɔ̃ ˈdɛ trə/ (Show IPA)
1.
reason or justification for being or existence:
Art is the artist's raison d'être.
Origin
1865-1870
1865-70; < French
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for raison d'etre

raison d'être

/rɛzɔ̃ dɛtrə/
noun (pl) raisons d'être (rɛzɔ̃ dɛtrə)
1.
reason or justification for existence
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for raison d'etre
n.

"excuse for being," 1864, first recorded in letter of J.S. Mill, from French raison d'être, literally "rational grounds for existence."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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raison d'etre in Culture
raison d'être [(ray-zohnn det-ruh)]

A basic, essential purpose; a reason to exist: “Professor Naylor argues that in the nuclear age, infantry forces have lost their raison d'être.” From French, meaning “reason for being.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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