mad·​e·​leine | \ ˈma-də-lən How to pronounce madeleine (audio) , ˌma-də-ˈlān How to pronounce madeleine (audio) \

Definition of madeleine

1 : a small rich shell-shaped cake
2 : one that evokes a memory

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The Madeleine Goes Back to France

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.

Examples of madeleine in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

Whisk together confectioners’ sugar, lemon juice, and poppy seeds in a bowl (thin with water if needed); drizzle over madeleines. Taylor Murray, Country Living, "Jasmine Madeleines With Lemon-Poppy Seed Glaze," 1 Mar. 2019 Remove pan from oven and immediately release madeleines by rapping pan on counter. Taylor Murray, Country Living, "Jasmine Madeleines With Lemon-Poppy Seed Glaze," 1 Mar. 2019 Liberally spray a nonstick 24-mini or 12-standard madeleine mold with cooking spray. Daniel Boulud, ELLE Decor, "Recipe: A Honey-Infused Madeleine That Makes For An Elegant Holiday Treat," 14 Nov. 2017 Dessert calls for a strawberry Napoleon ($4.99); or grab some palmiers or lemon madeleines ($1.09-$3.09) to go. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "French restaurants in Phoenix to celebrate Bastille Day," 9 July 2018 Taste, for example: Marcel Proust famously ate a madeleine that carried him back to childhood like a leaf on the wind. Ty Burr,, "Every playlist tells a story," 14 June 2018 Probably the most famous and frequently referenced example of this in literary history is Proust’s preoccupation with madeleines, the taste of which sends the narrator of Swann’s Way down a lengthy path of reverie. Alissa Wilkinson, Vox, "The delectable possibility and bland reality of Sweetbitter," 25 May 2018 Dozen Bakery Housed in a former truck repair shop, this spacious bakery opened three years ago and is always jammed with locals who come to treat themselves to the brown sugar and cornmeal cherry scones, pecan bars and lemon madeleines. Shivani Vora, New York Times, "Five Places to Go in Nashville," 1 Mar. 2018 Split an order of Maine lobster dumplings with jade butter ($16) or snack on the signature cornbread madeleines ($7) with a Black Pearl gin, vermouth and eau de vie cocktail ($13) or a can of sparkling chardonnay for two ($20). Gwendolyn Purdom, RedEye Chicago, "Chicago date idea: 2nd Fridays Gallery Night then drinks and bites at S.K.Y.," 20 Apr. 2018

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

1829, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for madeleine

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

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20 May 2019

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Time Traveler for madeleine

The first known use of madeleine was in 1829

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What made you want to look up madeleine? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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