objet trouvé


ob·​jet trou·​vé ˈȯb-ˌzhā-trü-ˈvā How to pronounce objet trouvé (audio)
plural objets trouvés ˈȯb-ˌzhā-trü-ˈvā How to pronounce objet trouvé (audio)
: a natural or discarded object found by chance and held to have aesthetic value

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Objet trouvé comes from French, where it literally means "found object." The term entered English during the early 20th century, a time when many artists challenged traditional ideas about the nature of true art. Surrealists and other artists, for instance, held that any object could be a work of art if a person recognized its aesthetic merit. "Objet trouvé" can refer to naturally formed objects whose beauty is the result of natural forces as well as to man-made artifacts (such as bathtubs, wrecked cars, or scrap metal) that were not originally created as art but are displayed as such.

Word History


borrowed from French, literally, "found object"

First Known Use

1936, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of objet trouvé was in 1936


Dictionary Entries Near objet trouvé

Cite this Entry

“Objet trouvé.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/objet%20trouv%C3%A9. Accessed 27 May. 2024.

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