im·​pres·​sion·​ism | \ im-ˈpre-shə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce impressionism (audio) \

Definition of impressionism

1 often capitalized : a theory or practice in painting especially among French painters of about 1870 of depicting the natural appearances of objects by means of dabs or strokes of primary unmixed colors in order to simulate actual reflected light
2a : the depiction (as in literature) of scene, emotion, or character by details intended to achieve a vividness or effectiveness more by evoking subjective and sensory impressions than by recreating an objective reality
b : a style of musical composition designed to create subtle moods and impressions

Examples of impressionism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The art of French impressionism and specialty cocktail making will be the order of the day when French 75 opens later this summer in downtown Aurora. Steve Lord,, 30 June 2021 In 1978, it was acquired by the Wildenstein & Co. gallery in New York, where it was purchased by the late art collector Edward Lochridge Cox, a Texan oil magnate with a penchant for impressionism. CNN, 19 Oct. 2021 Collection includes paintings reflecting couple's shared passion for impressionism and equine art. Luann Gibbs, The Enquirer, 6 Sep. 2021 The answer lies in another gallery at the Mennello showcasing impressionism. Patrick Connolly,, 20 Aug. 2021 McGinley’s pictures, whose style derives from French impressionism, are less symbolic. Washington Post, 25 June 2021 Brad Wood, the copacetic producer who helmed Guyville and Whip-Smart, is back for the first time since the Nineties, and the album’s sound often recalls the tart melodies, droll, searching prettiness, and rich genre impressionism of those albums. Jon Dolan, Rolling Stone, 4 June 2021 Jazz and impressionism combine in the first movement, based on Mary Cassatt’s Summertime. Tim Diovanni, Dallas News, 10 Mar. 2021 Its permanent collection showcases artists from the 19th to 21st centuries, and works from the neoclassical to impressionism to deconstructivism. Kathleen Squires, Condé Nast Traveler, 22 Mar. 2021

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

1877, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of impressionism was in 1877

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impression cylinder



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Last Updated

3 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Impressionism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of impressionism

: a style of painting that began in France around 1870, that uses spots of color to show the effects of different kinds of light, and that attempts to capture the feeling of a scene rather than specific details


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