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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for impressionism
Historical Examples
  • In the first place, impressionism does not mean "purple and yellow."

    The Painter in Oil Daniel Burleigh Parkhurst
  • 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.

  • What is called impressionism is—let it not be forgotten—a technique which can be applied to any subject.

  • 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
  • Here is the very negation of Gallic lightness and intuition, and of all other forms of impressionism as well.

    A Book of Prefaces H. L. Mencken
  • There have been many definitions of "impressionism" given, but they vary considerably.

    Art Principles Ernest Govett
  • impressionism is the generalizing of the subject-matter as a whole and the expression of only its salient features.

    Outdoor Sketching Francis Hopkinson Smith
  • Because impressionism is so free, therefore is it doubly bound.

    The Rhythm of Life Alice Meynell
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 American Heritage® 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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