How to Pronounce Giclée | A Word to Describe a Digital Fine Art Print

Here is the pronunciation for the French word Giclée

The easy way to learn how to pronounce Giclée is to hear it spoken in a sentence.

In English, it sounds most like: “gee-clay,” some use “zhee-clay.” In Wikipedia, it looks like this: Giclée (/ʒˈkl/ zhee-KLAY)
Click on the word to hear another version of how Giclée is pronounced and used in a sentence.

Modern Usage for Giclée

The word was serviceable in the 1990s, at the time of its origin, to refer to computer-generated prints. As its use became more widespread it lost its cachet. When marketers began using it to describe “giclee lampshades” and “giclee duvets,” for example, the art print publishers stopped using it. Today, you hear “digital fine art print” and “digital fine art reproduction” among other variations to describe prints made with ink-jet printing technology.

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 except for those who mangle the pronunciation.

More About Giclées

The Wikipedia entry for Giclée:

Giclée (/ʒˈkl/ zhee-KLAY) is a neologism coined in 1991 by printmaker Jack Duganne for fine art digital prints made on inkjet printers.[1] The name originally applied to fine art prints created on a modified Iris printer in a process invented in the late 1980s. It has since been used loosely to mean any fine-art, most of the times archival, inkjet print. It is often used by artists, galleries, and print shops to suggest high-quality printing but since it is an unregulated word it has no associated warranty of quality.[2]

Much of the terminology for art prints relate to the French language, which is not surprising since the art form evolved in France. For instance, artist’s proofs are known 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 “not for sale.” While using foreign language terms, especially French ones, adds elegance and hint of romance to the use for many Americans, the terms in their native French are merely serviceable words used to describe various aspects of the fine art printing business accurately.

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 terms. 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 commonplace along with the rise of the World Wide Web.

Learn How to Sell Giclees and Art Prints?

How to Profit from the Art Print Market

If you want to know how to sell giclees, you came to the right source. My How to Profit from the Art Print Market, 2nd Edition, has helped thousands of artists learn more about the art print market and what they need to do prepare themselves and their work for success selling giclees, limited edition prints and open edition prints.

CLICK HERE to order your copy and to get your career moving towards success in the art print market.

The book was last revised in 2011. Some things have changed in the fine art print business since then. As such, there are some outdated facts in the book. Nonetheless, it remains the best primer on the art print market available. Many of the tips and insights are as valid today as when the first edition was published in 2005.

How to Price Digital Fine Art Prints Ebook

Learning how to price art prints is a significant challenge for visual artists. Since no accepted standards exist for pricing giclées, the industry term for digital fine art print reproductions, artists are left to costly trial and error methods. How to Price Digital Fine Art Prints, a new e-book by art print industry veteran, Barney Davey, fills the gap.Learning how to price art prints is a significant challenge for visual artists. Since no accepted standards exist for pricing giclées, the industry term for digital fine art print reproductions, artists are left to costly trial and error methods. How to Price Digital Fine Art Prints, an ebook by art print industry veteran, Barney Davey, fills the gap.

Seven Questions for Artists Considering the Art Print Market

Here is a link to a post on this blog with the above title. It offers food for thought for those considering entering the art print market. Read it here.


art prints, Artist's Proof, Fine Art, giclees, print market, Pronounce, The Art Print

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  1. 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. 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. 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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