10 Comments

  1. Well at least we were spared any attempt to bring in that other kind of impressionist, who does imitations of celebrity appearances and speech patterns.

  2. Andréa: Why aren’t they related words? It seems to me that they are. Aside from the fact that they sound similar, which is “related” enough for an (admittedly lazy) joke, I’m pretty sure they’re both based on the same root of “impress” meaning having an impact on the observer: either the quick “impression” of “impressionism” or the deep impact of being “impressed.”

    And the answering smile seems more like friendly agreement, rather than the smirk of someone responding to a dummy.

  3. WW – I’m under the impression (bad pun intended) that the two uses of the root word are not related. But I could be wrong. Nah!

  4. MarkM: I’m not clear on what you (and Andréa) mean by “not related.” They don’t sound similar? They’re not etymologically related?

  5. The root is more basic than that. It comes from “press” and it means to leave a physical imprint on something. Your shoe impressed your footprints into the soft mud, leaving the impression of your sole.. The printing press impressed the letters onto the paper. Thus something can impress you, leaving an impression. Manet or Monet or whoever wanted a painting to be not literal but rather to somehow capture the mental image, the impression. Thus he called his painting “Impression: Water Lilies” or whatever it was, which is funny because to truly be an impression it would have to be a print, not a painting. You can buy a print of it at the Metropolitan Music of Art and then you have a literal impression of a metaphorical impression. A critic who didn’t like “Impression: Water Lilies” called the style “Impressionism” and there you are.
    Also a press gang can impress you into the Royal Navy. Whatever you do don’t take the King’s shilling.

  6. Monet’s painting at the origin of impressionism is “Impression, soleil levant” (Impression, rising sun):

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