Here’s a commercial word from the fine arts, now (March 2008) common in English, that ought to be but is not yet included in either the Oxford English Dictionary or the Unabridged Merriam-Webster. Neither of the two largest English dictionaries can deny the breadth of this word's usage. Giclée is everywhere on the internet at sites where posters and art reproductions are on sale. Artists who depend on their work being reproduced for sale know it and use it daily. Print collectors bandy it about. Giclée appears in the technical manuals of printers. From lips to lips of art-gallery browsers around the world, the word goes awinging. Giclée has been widely used for 15 years, so why dictionary editors have been such obdurate laggards mystifies me. But I do not intend to join them!

While the OED is known for its reluctance to include the technical jargon of current science — an old decision that drastically reduces the great dictionary's usefulness — the Unabridged Merriam-Webster does attempt to keep up with the words of modern science, making giclée's absence quite odd.


A giclée (zhee-KLAY) print is a superb-quality copy of an artwork or photograph made using high-end 8-to-12 color inkjet printing techniques coupled with the use of pigment inks, archival inks that maintain image stability and color permanence better than all other known inks.

Note that, like many newcomers to English, the French pronunciation of an initial /gi/ is retained. This /gi/ sound is similar to the /s/ in the word pleasure.

Giclées typically are printed on large-format special printers from a high-resolution digital scan of the original artwork or photograph. They are printed onto the best media substrates including canvas, fine art papers, and photo-base papers. The color accuracy of the best giclée printing is not exceeded.

Giclée prints adorn collections in most large museums of the world, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. At recent auctions giclée prints have fetched $10,800 for an Annie Leibovitz photograph, $9,600 for Chuck Close, and $22,800 for a Wolfgang Tillmans.

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