[ pleyn-air; French ple-ner ]
/ ˌpleɪnˈɛər; French plɛˈnɛr /


pertaining to a manner or style of painting developed chiefly in France in the mid-19th century, characterized by the representation of the luminous effects of natural light and atmosphere as contrasted with the artificial light and absence of the sense of air or atmosphere associated with paintings produced in the studio.
designating a painting executed out of doors and representing a direct response to the scene or subject in front of the artist.
(of a painting) having the qualities of air and natural light.

Origin of plein-air

First recorded in 1890–95; adj. use of plein air


plein-air·ism, nounplein-air·ist, noun

Definition for plein-air (2 of 2)

plein air
[ pleyn air; French ple ner ]
/ ˈpleɪn ˈɛər; French plɛ ˈnɛr /


the open air, especially the daylight of outdoors.
Fine Arts. the quality of light and atmosphere out of doors, especially this quality as rendered in painting.

Origin of plein air

1890–95; < French: literally, full air Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for plein-air

British Dictionary definitions for plein-air

/ (ˌpleɪnˈɛə, French plɛnɛr) /


of or in the manner of various French 19th-century schools of painting, esp impressionism, concerned with the observation of light and atmosphere effects outdoors

Derived forms of plein-air

plein-airist (ˌpleɪnˈɛərɪst), noun

Word Origin for plein-air

C19: from French phrase en plein air in the open (literally: full) air
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