How to Pronounce Giclée

How to Pronounce Giclee

Here is an easy way to learn. Click on the word to hear how Giclée sounds and is used in a sentence.

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The Term Still Gets Mangled

Despite increasing awareness, widespread use and ubiquitous display at shows such as ArtExpo New York and ArtExpo Las Vegas (now defunct), there is still confusion about how to pronounce Giclée.

My apologies to French speakers who find my American accent foreign to their ears. It’s nevertheless a far improvement from “gick lee” and “gee clay” and other abominations that are excruciatingly foreign to just about anybody’s ears with exception of those who mangle the pronunciation.

More About Giclees

The following is taken from the Wikipedia entry for Giclée:

Giclée (from French), commonly pronounced “zhee-clay,” is an invented term for the process of making fine art prints from a digital source using ink-jet printing.

Much of the nomenclature for art prints are related to the French language, which is not surprising since the art form evolved in France. For instance, artist’s proofs are often denoted as Épreuve d’Artiste or E.A.; a Pochoir is a print made using a stencil; a Bon à Tirer proof translates to “good to print”; and Hors Commerce meaning “before the sale” are print impressions annotated H.C. which are supposedly “not for sale.” While using foreign language terms, especially French ones, adds an elegance and hint of romance to the use for many Americans, the terms in their native French are merely serviceable words used to accurately describe various aspects of fine art printing business.

The early pioneers of digital printing therefore naturally gravitated to the use of a French word to help describe what might otherwise have been called a digital print or computer-generated print or other distinctly non-romantic techie term. Digital artist and digital art are more commonly accepted as fine art these days. These, however, were not terms one wanted to describe a new fine art printing technique in the early ’90s before Windows 95, AOL, the Mosaic browser and other transforming technologies became common place along with the rise of the World Wide Web. If you want the full and best story on what a Giclée is and the real story of the genesis of the term, read my previous blog posts, What is a Giclée. It has links to the most accurate and succinct information on the subject.


  1. says

    Hi Barney,
    I really don’t want to be the nit-picker here but if people would start looking into the phonetic transcription ( in square brackets […] )which can be found in ANY dictionary and which is internationally valid no matter which language you use, anyone would be able to pick out the correct pronounciation. There are always examples of words you would know how to pronounce them – especially in an english-xxxlanguage dictionary. I am always amazed how incredibly lazy people are.

  2. says

    It is a terrible term, especially when you look at the slang use in French. It doesn’t have the association you might want with a piece of fine art.

    The art community needs to get rid of this pretentious term for inkjets and go back to a simple, more-fitting description like “pigment on paper.”

  3. Barney Davey says

    Petra and Mark,

    Thanks for the comments. You both make valid points. I agree, it’s not that hard to learn language pronounciations. But rather than source a dictionary, many will use Google to help them. I’m guessing this blog will get lots of Google traffic for that reason.

    Last June, I published a post titled, Is Giclee Passe?. It questions whether the term has outlived its original intent and usefulness.

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