Here at PureWow HQ, no question is a dumb question. Which is why we're answering one of life's great mysteries: What is the difference between liquor and liqueur?
They share ridiculously similar names, both are alcoholic, and there isn't even a rule of thumb to tell them apart proof-wise. The one key distinction? Sugar.
Liquors are distilled alcoholic beverages made from plants or grains (e.g., vodka, bourbon, gin). They do contain sugar but that sugar is broken down--way down--during the fermentation process, eradicating much of the sweetness.
Liqueurs are herbal alcoholic beverages made from fruits, nuts, flowers or oils (e.g., amaretto, vermouth, triple sec). Liqueurs deliberately add back in the sugars lost during fermentation--as well as an array of additional flavorings.
Another way to think of it: Liquors are generally the base of drinks and liqueurs are used as add-ins for flavor. And there you have it.