madeleine

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noun mad·e·leine \ˈma-də-lən, ˌma-də-ˈlān\

Definition of madeleine

  1. 1 :  a small rich shell-shaped cake

  2. 2 :  one that evokes a memory

madeleine was our Word of the Day on 04/14/2014. Hear the podcast!

Did You Know?

The madeleine is said to have been named after a 19th-century French cook named Madeleine Paumier, but it was the French author Marcel Proust who immortalized the pastry in his 1913 book Swann's Way, the first volume of his seven-part novel Remembrance of Things Past. In that work, a taste of tea-soaked cake evokes a surge of memory and nostalgia. As more and more readers chewed on the profound mnemonic power attributed to a mere morsel of cake, the word madeleine itself became a designation for anything that evokes a memory.

Origin and Etymology of madeleine

French, perhaps from Madeleine Paumier, 19th century French pastry cook


First Known Use: 1829


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