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.
December 9th, 2015
Episode 396 of 681 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for December 09, 2015 is: objet trouvé \AWB-zhay-troo-VAY\ noun : a natural or discarded object found by chance and held to have aesthetic value Examples: "Architects, too, have discovered found objectsusually substantial buildings like barns, firehouses, power stations, train depotsbut the objet trouvé that Robert A. M. Stern recently transformed into a writers' penthouse and all-purpose retreat from his office below was a humble, metal-clad storage shed." Joseph Giovannini, Architectural Digest, July 2007 "The American sculptor Judith Scott literally concealed things: each of her cocoonlike constructions began with an objet trouvéan umbrella, a skateboard, a tree branch, her own jewelryaround which she wound layers and layers and layers of yarn, twine, and strips of textiles until the item's identity was obscured." Andrea K. Scott, The New Yorker, 1 Dec. 2014 Did you know? Objet trouvé comes from French, where it literally means "found object." The term entered English during the early 20th century, a time when many artists challenged traditional ideas about the nature of true art. Surrealists and other artists, for instance, held that any object could be a work of art if a person recognized its aesthetic merit. Objet trouvé can refer to naturally formed objects whose beauty is the result of natural forces as well as to man-made artifacts (such as bathtubs, wrecked cars, or scrap metal) that were not originally created as art but are displayed as such.