The Three Restauranteers

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A reader asks about a word that means “a person who owns and manages a restaurant”:

I recently saw the term “restauranteer” on someone’s resume.

I’ve heard of musketeers, and even mountaineers; but I thought restauranteurs and connoisseurs were in a different category?

The reader may be surprised to know that the Word spellchecker flags both restauranteer and restauranteurs as misspellings. The standard form is restaurateur.

The suffix -eer is an Anglicized form of the French suffix -ier. It is used to form nouns denoting persons. For example, French canonnier gives English cannoneer; French muletier gives English muleteer. The usual sense of such nouns is “one who is concerned with” or “one who deals in.”

Some French borrowings retain the -ier in English, for example bombardier, brigadier, cashier, clothier, courier, and chocolatier.

The suffix -eur is a French suffix unchanged in English. Its usual use is to form agent nouns from verbs, for example:

amateur, one who does something for the love of it.

connoisseur (from Latin cognōscĕre, “to know”), one who knows, especially about matters of taste.

provocateur, one who provokes a disturbance.

raconteur (from French raconter, “to recount, tell”), one who tells stories.

restaurateur, one who owns and manages a restaurant.

saboteur, one who commits sabotage.

secateur, something that cuts.

All three forms—restaurateur, restauranteur, and restauranteer—appear on the Ngram Viewer, but restauranteur is close to the bottom of the grid, and restauranteer is barely a blip.

The Chicago Manual of Style points out that restauranteur may appear in some dictionaries without being an example of good usage.

The Associated Press Stylebook lists restaurateur as the only spelling.

The reader who asked the question also asks to know how to remember the correct spelling. Perhaps this will help:

Restaurateur begins like restaurant, but does not include the n, and it ends with the suffix -teur.

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