Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day


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Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.



May 12th, 2016

Episode 522 of 923 episodes

Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for May 12, 2016 is: fauve \FOHV\ adjective 1 : of or relating to painters practicingfauvism 2 : vivid in color Examples: "Fauve colors brought sizzle back to tableware, but could you really eat off a Rorschach of orange, black and pink?" — Julie V. Iovine, The New York Times Magazine, 14 Mar. 1993 "Three were landscapes…. The other was a later painting of Adele, pale and strained, standing in a big hat with her arms loose amid fauve colours of red, mauve and green." — The Economist, 19 Feb. 2011 Did you know? When French art critic Louis Vauxcelles spotted a statue reminiscent of 15th-century Italian art in the midst of works by an avant-garde group of painters—principal among them Henri Matisse—at an exhibit in Paris in 1905, he verbalized his shock with the words "Donatello au milieu des fauves!" ("Donatello among the wild animals!"). His reaction was to the painters' unconventional use of intensely vivid color and free treatment of form, and apparently his words weren't far off the mark in describing their art: Matisse and company's art movement became known as "Fauvism" and the artists flourishing in it, the "Fauves." In 1967, the intense impact of their colors was still vibrant, inspiring one writer for Vogue to use fauve as an adjective to describe the colors of a "striking" flowered coat—and that use can still be found today vivifying colors.

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