1 of 2


often capitalized
: a painter practicing fauvism : fauvist


2 of 2


often capitalized : of or relating to the fauves
: vivid in color

Did you know?

The Artistic History of Fauve

When French art critic Louis Vauxcelles spotted a statue reminiscent of 15th-century Italian art in the midst of works by an avant-garde group of painters—principal among them Henri Matisse—at an exhibit in Paris in 1905, he verbalized his shock with the words "Donatello au milieu des fauves!" ("Donatello among the wild animals!"). His reaction was to the painters' unconventional use of intensely vivid color and free treatment of form, and apparently his words weren't far off the mark in describing their art: Matisse and company's art movement became known as "Fauvism" and the artists flourishing in it, the "Fauves." In 1967, the intense impact of their colors was still vibrant, inspiring one writer for Vogue to use fauve as an adjective to describe the colors of a "striking" flowered coat—and that use can still be found today vivifying colors.

Examples of fauve in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
On the fifth floor, the colorful paintings of Shara Hughes push natural forms toward feverish abstraction using the Fauves and early American modernists like Charles Burchfield. Roberta Smith, New York Times, 16 Mar. 2017
As the musicians trade solos, the fauve brilliance of the animation is the perfect match for the exultant melodic adventure. Sheri Linden, The Hollywood Reporter, 19 Sep. 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fauve.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



French, literally, wild animal, from fauve tawny, wild, from Old French falve tawny, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German falo fallow — more at fallow

First Known Use


1931, in the meaning defined above


1945, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of fauve was in 1931


Dictionary Entries Near fauve

Cite this Entry

“Fauve.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fauve. Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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