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

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 There are many things to admire about the production, from its madeleine-esque needle drops to its relish in the baggy tackiness of so much ’90s fashion. Washington Post, 2 Feb. 2022 The story ends with a mug of Bovril, which is Frank’s madeleine, so to speak, calling up vivid scenes from the past. Deborah Treisman, The New Yorker, 10 Jan. 2022 Roast chicken may be my therapy, but chicken soup is my panacea, my madeleine dipped in tea. New York Times, 30 Dec. 2021 The madeleine side overpowered the brownie with its over-the-top sweetness and was much drier than the brownie side. cleveland, 8 Dec. 2021 To Americans of a certain age, Heller dinnerware is as potent a madeleine to the 1970s as a Marimekko print. New York Times, 23 Aug. 2021 And Perret revisited his signature madeleine recipe served at the hotel’s Salon Proust to create a travel-friendly sponge cake that stays fresh for up to five days. Vivian Song, Robb Report, 1 June 2021 Inside, a giant chandelier of Bohemian crystal recalls the curved shape of a madeleine. Cécilia Pelloux, Forbes, 24 May 2021 This, much more than the madeleine memory, is the real Proustian turn. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 3 May 2021 See More

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.

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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The first known use of madeleine was in 1829

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Cite this Entry

“Madeleine.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2022.

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