bi·​jou | \ ˈbē-ˌzhü How to pronounce bijou (audio) \
plural bijous or bijoux\ ˈbē-​ˌzhü(z) How to pronounce bijou (audio) \

Definition of bijou

1 : a small dainty usually ornamental piece of delicate workmanship : jewel
2 : something delicate, elegant, or highly prized

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Other Words from bijou

bijou adjective

Did You Know?

Bijou (which can be pluralized as either bijoux or bijous) has adorned English since the late 17th century. We borrowed it from French, but the word ultimately traces to Breton, a Celtic language (one closely related to Cornish and Welsh) spoken by inhabitants of the Brittany region of northwest France. Our modern English word derives from Breton bizou, which means "ring." That history makes bijou a rare gem in English because, although the Breton people occupied part of England for many years before they were pushed into France by the Anglo-Saxons in the 5th and 6th centuries, very few Breton-derived words remain in our language. (Another Breton descendant is menhir, a term for a kind of monolith.)

Examples of bijou in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Take Bonifacio, southern Corsica’s bijou citadel splayed on limestone cliffs. Travis Levius, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why Your Next Cruise Should Be a Yacht Cruise," 11 Mar. 2020 The system that gave us this bijou of Streamline Moderne design also brought us here, to the brink of planetary collapse. Aaron Timms, The New Republic, "Privacy Policy," 27 Jan. 2020 Nearby is Le Restaurant , a bijou Francophile enclave, with charming owners and a superb wine list. Steve King, Condé Nast Traveler, "Why We Keep Going Back to Amsterdam," 24 Dec. 2018 One had to wonder whether Bill Cunningham, the beloved bicycling photographer, would have been secretly pleased or put out by the fuss made over him last night at the opening of a bijou exhibition at the New York Historical Society. Vogue, "Celebrating Bill Cunningham at the New York Historical Society and Right Here on Vogue," 19 June 2018 After a glamorous start to the week, guests filtered into the heart of Mayfair (some making a quick pit stop to refuel on burgers and mac and cheese at the bijou London outpost of Paris Fashion Week favorite Ferdi). Vogue, "The Chosen Ones: London Celebrates the Fashion Awards Nominations," 24 Oct. 2017 Located on the Jutland peninsula, this bijou-size city is an understated Dansk jewel that has a bounty of activities to sink your teeth into, as well as the credentials to compete with Europe’s elite—it was recently billed ‘ Josh Lee, Vogue, "10 Under-the-Radar European City Escapes," 21 Aug. 2017 Now, the company has reinterpreted that iconic bijou for modern times. T Magazine, New York Times, "From Miniature Art to an Intimate New Hotel, New Things on T’s Radar," 17 Aug. 2017 The venue’s Grande Seine, a 6,000-seat performance hall, will bring in a bit of everything (concerts, musicals, ballets), while the bijou auditorium—in light oak, birch, and cedar—is home to the Insula Orchestra, led by Laurence Equilbey. Mary Winston Nicklin, Condé Nast Traveler, "La Seine Musicale: A New “City of Music” on an Island in Paris," 25 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bijou.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of bijou

1668, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for bijou

French, from Breton bizou ring, from biz finger

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Cite this Entry

“Bijou.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 May. 2021.

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