ā-ˈklä How to pronounce éclat (audio)
: ostentatious display : publicity
: dazzling effect : brilliance
: brilliant or conspicuous success

Did you know?

The History of Éclat

Éclat burst onto the scene in English in the 17th century. The word derives from French, where it can mean "splinter" (the French idiom voler en éclats means "to fly into pieces") as well as "burst" (un éclat de rire means "a burst of laughter"), among other things. The "burst" sense is reflected in the earliest English sense of the word, meaning "ostentatious display or publicity." This sense found its own idiomatic usage in the phrase "to make an éclat," which at one time meant "to create a sensation." By the 1740s, éclat took on the additional meaning of "applause or acclamation," as in "The performer was received with great éclat."

Word History


French, splinter, burst, éclat, from Old French esclat splinter — more at slate entry 1

First Known Use

1672, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of éclat was in 1672


Dictionary Entries Near éclat

Cite this Entry

“éclat.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/%C3%A9clat. Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

More from Merriam-Webster on éclat

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!