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[im-presh-uh-niz-uh m] /ɪmˈprɛʃ əˌnɪz əm/
Fine Arts.
  1. (usually initial capital letter) a style of painting developed in the last third of the 19th century, characterized chiefly by short brush strokes of bright colors in immediate juxtaposition to represent the effect of light on objects.
  2. a manner of painting in which the forms, colors, or tones of an object are lightly and rapidly indicated.
  3. a manner of sculpture in which volumes are partially modeled and surfaces roughened to reflect light unevenly.
a theory and practice in literature that emphasizes immediate aspects of objects or actions without attention to details.
a late-19th-century and early-20th-century style of musical composition in which lush harmonies, subtle rhythms, and unusual tonal colors are used to evoke moods and impressions.
Origin of impressionism
1880-85; impression + -ism; compare German Impressionismus, French impressionnisme Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for impressionism
Historical Examples
  • His impressionism of phrase went really deeper than the surface.

  • Which is to say that he will probably be a convert to Mr Hueffer's impressionism.

  • impressionism is Realism widened by the study of the milieu.

  • French masterpieces impressionism and the rest of it did not interest him to-night.

    Peter F. Hopkinson Smith
  • In the early years of independence, the simplicity of National Revival art gave way to an academic style and to impressionism.

    Area Handbook for Bulgaria

    Eugene K. Keefe, Violeta D. Baluyut, William Giloane, Anne K. Long, James M. Moore, and Neda A. Walpole
  • In the first place, impressionism does not mean "purple and yellow."

    The Painter in Oil Daniel Burleigh Parkhurst
  • He had never heard tell of impressionism, and artists were not in his line.

    My Lord Duke E. W. Hornung
  • There have been many definitions of "impressionism" given, but they vary considerably.

    Art Principles

    Ernest Govett
  • His adoration of Monticelli and his jewelled style led him to impressionism.

    Ivory Apes and Peacocks James Huneker
  • After the hard-won victories of impressionism there was bound to ensue a reaction.

    Ivory Apes and Peacocks James Huneker
British Dictionary definitions for impressionism


(often capital) a movement in French painting, developed in the 1870s chiefly by Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, and Sisley, having the aim of objectively recording experience by a system of fleeting impressions, esp of natural light effects
the technique in art, literature, or music of conveying experience by capturing fleeting impressions of reality or of mood
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for impressionism

1839 as a term in philosophy, from impression + -ism. Specifically with reference to the French art movement from 1882, from impressionist.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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impressionism in Culture

impressionism definition

A style of painting associated mainly with French artists of the late nineteenth century, such as Edgar Degas, Edouard Manet, Claude Monet, and Pierre-Auguste Renoir. Impressionist painting seeks to re-create the artist's or viewer's general impression of a scene. It is characterized by indistinct outlines and by small brushstrokes of different colors, which the eye blends at a distance. Soft, pastel colors appear frequently in impressionist paintings.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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