[pwan-tl-iz-uh m, -tee-iz-, poin-tl-iz-]
noun (sometimes initial capital letter)
  1. a theory and technique developed by the neo-impressionists, based on the principle that juxtaposed dots of pure color, as blue and yellow, are optically mixed into the resulting hue, as green, by the viewer.

Origin of pointillism

1900–05; < French pointillisme, equivalent to pointill(er) to mark with points + -isme -ism
Related formspoin·til·list, noun, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

British Dictionary definitions for pointillism


  1. the technique of painting elaborated from impressionism, in which dots of unmixed colour are juxtaposed on a white ground so that from a distance they fuse in the viewer's eye into appropriate intermediate tonesAlso called: divisionism
Derived Formspointillist, noun, adjective

Word Origin for pointillism

C19: from French, from pointiller to mark with tiny dots, from pointille little point, from Italian puntiglio, from punto point
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

Word Origin and History for pointillism

1901, from French pointillisme, from pointiller "to cover with pointilles," small dots, plural diminutive of point (see point (n.)). Pointillist is attested from 1891, from French pointilliste.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper