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Thu., Aug. 16, 2012, 10:12 p.m.

A Word A Day — maquette

August 16, 2012

Word of the Day

  • maquette
  • audio pronunciation
  • \ma-KET\


: a usually small preliminary model (as of a sculpture or a building)

At the town meeting the architect presented a maquette of the proposed new school, which will include a state-of-the-art gymnasium and media center.

"All of the pieces in the gallery, including maquettes of the much larger outdoor works, are organized by location and accompanied by photographs of the artwork in their current homes...." — From an article by Jeremy D. Bonfiglio in The Herald-Palladium (St. Joseph, Michigan), May 10, 2012


"Maquette" came to English directly from French, first appearing in our language in the late 19th century. The French word, which possesses the same meaning as its English descendant, derived from the Italian noun "macchietta," meaning "sketch," and ultimately from Latin "macula," meaning "spot." Maquettes are generally intended to serve as rough models of larger designs. Architects make maquettes of their buildings, and sculptors often create maquettes in wax or clay to help them realize the final sculpture. As an aside, you might spot something familiar in the word's Latin ancestor. The term "macula" in English refers to a spot (such as one on the eye) that is different from surrounding tissue; this is where we get the term "macular degeneration."

From Merriam-Webster Online at

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Spokesman-Review readers blog about news and issues in Spokane written by Dave Laird.