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

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 Science is a bricolage in which no single gene or feature can explain human evolution. Wired, 14 July 2022 Brodsky/Baryshnikov was a bricolage of Brodsky poems. Joan Acocella, The New York Review of Books, 14 May 2020 Gigi’s kitchen, with its dyed-pasta-facade cabinetry, was just part of a larger bricolage motif that included a bathroom plastered with New Yorker magazine covers. Collier Schorr; Styling By Ludivine Poiblanc, Harper's BAZAAR, 14 July 2021 But her poetic bricolage took on a new urgency as the memory of war was reactivated. Sophie Pinkham, Harper's Magazine, 25 May 2021 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, 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, 15 Sep. 2019 How cities manage gentrification can yield an engaging and integrated bricolage, or not. Bruce Fuller, The Mercury News, 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,, 13 June 2019 See More

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.

First Known Use of bricolage

1960, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bricolage

French, from bricoler to putter about

Learn More About bricolage

Time Traveler for bricolage

Time Traveler

The first known use of bricolage was in 1960

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About bricolage

Dictionary Entries Near bricolage




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for bricolage

Last Updated

23 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Bricolage.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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