bricolage

noun
bri·​co·​lage | \ ˌbrē-kō-ˈläzh How to pronounce bricolage (audio) , ˌbri- \

Definition of bricolage

: construction (as of a sculpture or a structure of ideas) achieved by using whatever comes to hand also : something constructed in this way

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Bricolage Has French Roots

According to French social anthropologist Claude Lévi-Strauss, the artist "shapes the beautiful and useful out of the dump heap of human life." Lévi-Strauss compared this artistic process to the work of a handyman who solves technical or mechanical problems with whatever materials are available. He referred to that process of making do as bricolage, a term derived from the French verb bricoler (meaning "to putter about") and related to bricoleur, the French name for a jack-of-all-trades. Bricolage made its way from French to English during the 1960s, and it is now used for everything from the creative uses of leftovers ("culinary bricolage") to the cobbling together of disparate computer parts ("technical bricolage").

Examples of bricolage in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The whole house is an act of bricolage, from the surrealist staircase to the adobe embankment dripping with ferns against the neighboring plot. New York Times, "In and Around Guadalajara, Homes Like Sanctuaries," 15 Feb. 2021 Just as Instagram’s nostalgic filters and the bricolage identity-curation platforms like Pinterest were catching on, here was someone gluing together disparate references using a Super 8 aesthetic. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "The Plot Against Persona," 15 Sep. 2019 How cities manage gentrification can yield an engaging and integrated bricolage, or not. Bruce Fuller, The Mercury News, "Opinion: Nation should look forward, not back, to diversify schools," 20 Aug. 2019 From the music to the movie stills, the restaurant seems like an exercise in pop culture bricolage, meant to pique one’s interest without sustaining it with anything meaningful. Soleil Ho, SFChronicle.com, "The Vault, San Francisco’s new Financial District blockbuster, comes up empty," 13 June 2019 For, this book reminds us, belonging is always bricolage. Crawford Gribben, WSJ, "‘My Father Left Me Ireland’ Review: Hibernian Heritage," 13 June 2019 The performance, composed in thematic layers, is itself a kind of bricolage. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, the farmhouse next door, and unexpected connections in between," 16 Apr. 2018 Kinships with craftwork, toys, folk or outsider art, and bricolage inevitably suggest themselves, only to be plowed under by the rigor of an aesthetic as sophisticated as that of an Alexander Calder or a Joseph Cornell. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The Utopian Vision of Bodys Isek Kingelez," 4 June 2017 From the music to the movie stills, the restaurant seems like an exercise in pop culture bricolage, meant to pique one’s interest without sustaining it with anything meaningful. Soleil Ho, SFChronicle.com, "The Vault, San Francisco’s new Financial District blockbuster, comes up empty," 13 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'bricolage.' 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 bricolage

1960, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bricolage

French, from bricoler to putter about

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Time Traveler for bricolage

Time Traveler

The first known use of bricolage was in 1960

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Cite this Entry

“Bricolage.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/bricolage. Accessed 15 May. 2021.

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