In French the term means "Outside the work" and refers to small individual pieces of food served before a main course to stimulate the appetite. They are often served without utensils (as "finger foods") and with cocktails or aperitifs.
Small savory appetizers served before the meal, customarily with appetizers 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 a 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 modem parlance, however, the plural is often spoken and written as hors d’oeuvres.