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[pas-pahr-too; French pahs-par-too] /ˌpæs pɑrˈtu; French pɑs parˈtu/
noun, plural passe-partouts
[pas-pahr-tooz; French pahs-par-too] /ˌpæs pɑrˈtuz; French pɑs parˈtu/ (Show IPA)
something that passes everywhere or provides a universal means of passage.
a master key; skeleton key.
an ornamental mat for a picture.
a method of framing in which a piece of glass is placed over a picture and is affixed to a backing by means of adhesive strips of paper or other material pasted over the edges.
paper prepared for this purpose.
Origin of passe-partout
1635-45; < French: literally, (it) passes everywhere Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for passe-partout
Historical Examples
  • So if it wasn't a passe-partout, it was non-suited, quoad existence.

    A Likely Story William De Morgan
  • When the sections are finished, fasten them together with the passe-partout paper.

    Handicraft for Girls Idabelle McGlauflin
  • It was from Goethe; it was lettered in old German characters, framed in passe-partout, and hung above the mantel.

    The Barrier

    Allen French
  • Book-cloth or any firm material can be used instead of the passe-partout paper.

    Handicraft for Girls Idabelle McGlauflin
  • "Here's the Little Colonel's corner," said Mary, leading him to a group of large photographs framed in passe-partout.

    The Little Colonel in Arizona Annie Fellows Johnston
  • This can be done still easier by using strips of passe-partout binding, or strips used for binding lantern slides.

  • Cut the passe-partout paper an inch longer than the side to be covered, and do not fasten down quite to the corner.

    Handicraft for Girls Idabelle McGlauflin
  • Materials: Cardboard; book-cloth or Japanese tissue paper; passe-partout paper.

    Handicraft for Girls Idabelle McGlauflin
  • There is an exquisite ivory-type of Marjorie, in passe-partout, on the drawing room mantel-piece.

    Marjorie Daw Thomas Bailey Aldrich
  • The manner was then to repeat the engraved borders of titles, the passe-partout, in the centre of which the text was printed.

    The Printed Book Henri Bouchot
British Dictionary definitions for passe-partout


/ˌpæspɑːˈtuː; French pɑspartu/
a mounting for a picture in which strips of strong gummed paper are used to bind together the glass, picture, and backing
the gummed paper used for this
a mat, often decorated, on which a picture is mounted
something that secures entry everywhere, esp a master key
Word Origin
C17: from French, literally: pass everywhere
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 passe-partout

"master-key," 1670s, French, literally "pass everywhere," from passer "to pass" (see pass (v.)) + partout "everywhere," from par "through" (see per) + tout "all."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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