plein air

[ pleyn-air; French ple ner ]

  1. the open air, especially the daylight of outdoors.

  2. 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

Words Nearby plein air

Other definitions for plein-air (2 of 2)

[ pleyn-air; French ple-ner ]

  1. 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.

  2. designating a painting executed out of doors and representing a direct response to the scene or subject in front of the artist.

  1. (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

Other words from plein-air

  • plein-airism, noun
  • plein-airist, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use plein air in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for plein-air


/ (ˌpleɪnˈɛə, French plɛnɛr) /

  1. 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

Origin of plein-air

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

Derived forms of plein-air

  • plein-airist (ˌpleɪnˈɛərɪst), noun

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