from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Great brilliance, as of performance or achievement.
  • n. Conspicuous success.
  • n. Great acclamation or applause.
  • n. Archaic Notoriety; scandal.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A brilliant or successful effect; brilliance of success or effort; splendor; brilliant show; striking effect; glory; renown.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A burst, as of applause; acclamation; approbation: as, his speech was received with great éclat.
  • n. Brilliant effect; brilliancy of success; splendor; magnificence: as, the éclat of a great achievement.
  • n. Renown; glory.


French, brilliance, from Old French esclat, splinter, from esclater, to burst out, splinter, probably of Germanic origin.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French, from éclater ("to burst out"), from Middle French esclater ("to break, break violently"), from Old French esclater ("to separate from, sunder out") (deverbal also in Old French: esclat), from Frankish *slaitan (“to split, break”), from Proto-Germanic *slaitijanan, causative of Proto-Germanic *slītanan (“to cut up, split”). Akin to Old High German sleizan ("to tear"), Old English slītan ("to split"). More at slice, slit. (Wiktionary)


Sorry, no example sentences found.


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • (I started thumbing through my copy for it, but Google’s faster.)

    “Bankruptcy and repudiation are the spring-boards from which much of our civilization vaults and turns its somersets, but the savage stands on the unelastic plank of famine. Yet the Middlesex Cattle Show goes off here with éclat annually, as if all the joints of the agricultural machine were suent.”
                    — Henry David Thoreau. “Economy”. Walden. 1854.

    September 24, 2011

  • Cite it here the same way you made your comment.

    July 23, 2010

  • The best known usage is probably from from Thoreau's Walden (pg 21), but I don't see how I can add another example.

    July 23, 2010