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.
April 26th, 2015
Episode 178 of 681 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for April 26, 2015 is: rococo \ruh-KOH-koh\ adjective 1 : of or relating to an artistic style especially of the 18th century characterized by fanciful curved asymmetrical forms and elaborate ornamentation 2 : excessively ornate or intricate Examples: Among the items being auctioned off is a beautiful set of six chairs carved in a rococo style. "Mythological creatures of all sizes embellish hundreds of temples and rococo shrines clustered around a 300-foot-tall spire covered with 20 tons of gold and topped by a 72-carat diamond." Curtis Ellis, Boston Globe, February 22, 2015 Did you know? In the 18th century, French artists rebelled against the ponderousness of baroque style and began to create light, delicate interior decorations, furniture, and architectural elements characterized by fanciful, curved, asymmetrical forms and elaborate ornamentation. The name of their new style, rococo, has been traced to the French rocaille, a term that evoked the ornamental use of rock and shell forms. In time, rococo was also applied to similarly ornamented and intimate styles of painting and music. But all fashions fade, and by the mid-1800s the rococo style was deemed excessively ornate and out-of-date. Now rococo is often used with mild disdain to describe the overly elaborate.