Giclée inkjet art printer

Q: What’s the difference between a giclée and an inkjet?
A: A couple hundred bucks.

In the world of limited edition art prints, giclée is a fancy word for inkjet art prints. There is a difference in quality between the office inkjet copier and a giclée printer, but the term ‘inkjet’ might sound a bit too pedestrian in an art gallery. According to Merriam-Webster, a digital print maker in California coined the term in 1991 after consulting a French dictionary in search of a suitably upscale euphemism. He found the word ‘gicler,’ which means ‘to spray’ or ‘to jet.’

Giclée printer cartridges

Giclée would have a cachet that ‘digital ink jet print’ couldn’t achieve. Later, printers discovered that in French ‘gicler’ was slang for ‘to ejaculate,’ but the term had by then been widely embraced by North American galleries. Giclée is still in use, but the unsexy straightforward ‘digital ink jet print’ has regained currency and is now the preferred usage.