in Wacky Word Wednesday

Hi there! Welcome back to Wacky Word Wednesday on Simply CSOFT, where we put the spotlight on a different word each week. This time we’ll venture into the realm of art and optical illusion. Are you ready for this?! Here’s this week’s lemma from

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trompe l’oeil

[French trawnp lœ-yuh; English trawmp ley, loi]


1. visual deception, especially in paintings, in which objects are rendered in extremely fine detail emphasizing the illusion of tactile and spatial qualities.
2. a painting, mural, or panel of wallpaper designed to create such an effect.

quo botTrompe l'oeil

A trompe l’oeil, literally meaning to ‘to fool the eye’ in French, is a term used to refer to a picture or painting that is designed to deceive the viewer’s eye. Trompe l’oeil may also be seen written with the grapheme “œ,” a ligature of “o” and “e,” which is sparsely used in English, but rather common in French.

The techniques used in a trompe l’oeil make it look like the objects depicted are three dimensional and actually “there.” For instance, to make a trompe l’oeil truly convincing, the artist needs to match the lighting in his painting to the lighting in the space he’s working. A classic example of a trompe l’oeil can be found here.

The trompe l’oeil gained great popularity in the Renaissance, when perspective drawing really started to catch on. However, long before that, the ancient Greeks and Romans were already painting garden views through painted windows on their walls. Examples of this have been found in such archeological sites as Pompeii. The eye-fooling artworks became popular for their ability to add a feeling of spaciousness. Moreover, it provided a cheaper way of decorating a space. After all, this painting probably didn’t cost anywhere near as much as an actual carved ornament.

The work of so-called “sidewalk chalk artists” are modern day versions of the trompe l’oeil (for awesome sidewalk art click here and here). And heck, here’s another link with a wider selection of mind-boggling trompe l’oeil art. We hope you enjoy them as much as we did!

Finally, here are two examples plucked from the internet showing this week’s word in a sentence:

  • Executed by Andrea Pozzo in 1703, the remarkable trompe l’oeil dome, painted on a flat part of the ceiling, is a real masterpiece. (Wikipedia)
  • UN peacekeeping as a trompe l’oeil strategy is simple and obvious. (François Debrix (1999): Re-envisioning Peacekeeping: The United Nations and the Mobilization of Ideology)

This wraps up our Wacky Word for today. We hope you’ll join us again next week!

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