poin·​til·​lis·​tic | \ ˌpȯin-tə-ˈli-stik How to pronounce pointillistic (audio) , ˌpwaⁿ(n)-tē-ˈyi-stik How to pronounce pointillistic (audio) \
variants: or less commonly pointillist \ ˈpȯin-​tə-​list How to pronounce pointillistic (audio) , ˌpwaⁿ(n)-​tē-​ˈyēst How to pronounce pointillistic (audio) \

Definition of pointillistic

1 : composed of many discrete details or parts
2 : of, relating to, or characteristic of pointillism or pointillists

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In the late 19th century, Neo-Impressionists discovered that contrasting dots of color applied side by side would blend together and be perceived as a luminous whole when seen from a distance. With this knowledge, they developed the technique of pointillism, also known as divisionism. By the 1920s, the adjective pointillistic was being used as a word describing something having many details or parts, such as an argument or musical composition; it was then applied to the art of pointillism and its artists, the pointillists.

Examples of pointillistic in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web With his pointillistic vision of microhistory, of an overwhelming profusion of details, Jancsó radically decontextualized historical events and turned them into abstract symbols. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 13 Jan. 2022 His meta-narrative is not a pointillistic patchwork but a seamless tapestry. Bethanne Patrick, Los Angeles Times, 28 Sep. 2021 The piece then breaks into a pointillistic texture, with pluckings all around. Tim Diovanni, Dallas News, 27 Apr. 2021 Use a power drill with varying sizes of bits to create an elegantly pointillistic design on your pumpkin…. Beth Segal, cleveland, 15 Oct. 2020 Printed on the front of certain legitimate N95 masks is a logo of sorts: a figure surrounded by a cloud of air particles, represented by tiny, pointillistic dots. Anna Russell, The New Yorker, 7 May 2020 Webber takes pointillistic dabs and flickers, volleys between trombone and piano, say, and conjures a solid rhythmic and melodic substance out of what at first sounds totally slippery and liquid. John Adamian, courant.com, 17 Nov. 2019 Her approach, with a major policy released seemingly every other day, is pointillistic; her various plans—from breaking up big tech to re-energizing domestic manufacturing—creating a cutting critique of the status quo. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, 10 June 2019 Her pieces were pointillistic and dizzying, defining odd meters and adding and subtracting notes to make the patterns endlessly flex and realign. Jon Pareles, New York Times, 21 May 2018

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

1922, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of pointillistic was in 1922

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Last Updated

20 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Pointillistic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pointillistic. Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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