gi·​clée (ˈ)zhē-¦klā How to pronounce giclée (audio)
plural giclées
: a process by which high-quality prints (see print entry 1 sense 6b) are produced using an ink-jet printer
Hayes' festival painting displays a coastal scene with vibrantly dressed people searching for oysters. The piece is printed using giclée, a process that involves squirting microscopic dots of ink onto fine-quality archival paper or canvas. The ink is actually absorbed into the paper, giving the piece a look very close to the original.The Myrtle Beach (South Carolina) Sun-News, 12 Oct. 2006
or giclée print : a print produced by the giclée process
The high end of inkjet printing is the giclée print … . The name is derived from the French verb "gicler" meaning to squirt, or more accurately in this case, an extremely fine spray of many different sized droplets. This application of overlapping dots of ink mixes, forming additional color combinations. The application of the inks in this printing process is so fine that there are no discernible dots or droplets on the final print.Steven Bleicher, Contemporary Color: Theory and Use, 2012
Giclées are produced from digital scans of existing artwork.Marjorie Wertz, The Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pennsylvania), 2 Oct. 2005

Word History


borrowed from French, "spurt or gush of liquid," noun derivative from feminine past participle of gicler "to spurt, splash," going back to Middle French, "to make gush" (attested once), borrowed from regional French (Lyonnais), borrowed from Franco-Provençal (Lyon) jiclio, jaclio "to gush, spurt," probably going back to Gallo-Romance *cīsculāre (whence also Old Occitan cisclar, gisclar "to rain and blow together," Old French cisler "to lash"), of uncertain origin

Note: The forms jiclio, jaclio are from Nizier du Puitspelu (pen name of Clair Tisseur), Dictionnaire étymologique du patois lyonnais (Lyon, 1890), p. 225. For the many and diverse dialectal outcomes of *cīsculāre (with fluctuating initial voicing and several distinct sense fields: "scream," "spurt, gush," "whip, lash") see Französisches etymologisches Wörterbuch, vol. 2/1, pp. 711-15.

Note: According to paper and online sources, the French word giclée was first applied to ink-jet prints in 1991 by Jack Duganne, a printmaker working for Nash Editions in Manhattan Beach, California. A relatively early account of the origin can be found in "Paper Trail," the editorial column of On Paper: The Journal of Prints, Drawing and Photography, vol. 1, no. 5 (May-June, 1997), p. 5: "When, in the mid-1980's [recte, 1990-91], Nash Editions became the first press extensively involved in computer printmaking (with an Iris printer, in this case), it dubbed the works digital ink jet prints. This reflected, in a matter-of-fact manner, the process that takes an image scanned or generated on a computer, and then sends that image to be printed on a machine that spits out ink in minuscule jets … . 'We had a man named Jack Duganne working with us at the time, who recognized there was no way to talk about this,' says Nash Editions's Mac Holbert. 'He felt that if we just called it "digital ink jet print," it would have absolutely no impact on the art world. So he went home to his French dictionary and found the word "gicler," which means "to spray" or "to jet."' (Later, the printers discovered that the term in French was slang for 'to ejaculate,' which pleased them even more.) The term 'giclée' is still occasionally used. But even Nash Editions abandoned it as a 'euphemism,' and the more cumbersome 'digital ink jet print' prevails."

First Known Use

1995, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of giclée was in 1995

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Cite this Entry

“Giclée.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Apr. 2024.

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