Monday, June 18, 2012


This word is used to indicate an outline, and originates from 18th century France. 

Silhouette of Jane Austen
Etienne de Silhouette (1709-67) was the protégé of Madame de Pompadour, who was the mistress of Louis XV. Pompadour managed to secure Silhouette’s appointment as the Finance Minister of France in 1759. Due to the ravages of the Seven Years War (1756-63), Silhouette was tasked with securing funds to rebuild the French Army. His plan involved the implementation of new taxes on the nobility, which amounted to a luxury tax. Unfortunately, Silhouette’s new taxes were not popular with the nobility of France and he was soon forced into retirement within months.

After this incident, anything done on the cheap was said in France to be à la silhouette. This included the new popular black-profile portraits that were becoming very popular in France.

This should be a lesson to anyone doing something that might end up having his or her name attached to it. For poor Silhouette, he is now synonymous with anything cheap.

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