éclat was our Word of the Day on 07/14/2016. Hear the podcast!
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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."
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