Word: baroque

Pronunciation: bə-ROHK / bə-RAHK

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: highly ornate and extravagant in style

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


No, it’s not a sassy way of saying “broke” (American English) or an alternative spelling for the current American president’s name (British English). Anyone who has studied art history should be familiar with the Baroque period of the 17th and 18th centuries, a European style characterized by extremely ornate detail. Even if you’ve never been much of an art enthusiast, such works as the Chateau de Versailles, the compositions of Bach and Vivaldi, and the paintings of Caravaggio and Rubens should give you an idea of what to expect when you hear something described as “baroque”!

The “baroque” style of architecture, music, and art is highly extravagant and ornate. The word arose in English in the mid 18th century and is originally a French adjective used to describe a pearl of irregular shape. This adjective may stem from the Portuguese adjective barroco, the Spanish adjective barrueco, or the Italian adjective barocco, but its ultimate origin is unknown.

Though the primary meaning of “baroque” refers to an art movement, the word has since acquired a modern sub-definition to describe anything characterized by lavish detail. Note that it can also function as a noun, though in this case it refers specifically to the Baroque style or period of art. If you often find inspiration in heavily adorned works of art, you can certainly have fun adding some “baroque” details to your stories!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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