Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day
trompe l’oeil; *trompe d’oeil; *tromp d’oeil; *trump l’oeil.
“Trompe l’oeil,” meaning “deceives the eye,” is by far the most common spelling of this gallicism. It’s the one recorded in most dictionaries. “*trompe d’oeil” is less common. *”Tromp d’oeil” and *”trump l’oeil” are needless variants. The phrase can apply to any illusion as well as to a highly realistic style of painting — e.g.:
o “In architecture, fashion, and art, the Baroque period is distinguished by elaborate accessories and embellishments, from Corinthian capitals on pillars to ribbons and laces on clothing to the grand display of tromp d’oeil [read ‘trompe l’oeil’] murals to the grand statues of Bernini.” Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Communion Blood 16 (1999).
o “The latest for high-flying male executives, says Forbes magazine, is a custom-crafted porcelain veneer for one’s teeth. This tromp d’oeil [read ‘trompe l’oeil’] is pearly white, dazzling and very costly.” Ros Davidson, “A Drug Invented for Chemical Warfare Has Taken Off Across America as a Beauty Treatment That Paralyses . . .,” Sunday Herald, 28 May 2002, at P8.
The phrase is pronounced (in English) /trawmp loi/.
*Invariably inferior form.
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Quotation of the Day:
“Some teachers are chronically bored; they have read so many textbooks; or they have read the attempts of students to concoct something invulnerable to the blue pencil. Thanks to those bored teachers and the blue pencil, most themes, honors papers included, lack even the style of a colt or a bull calf, his first day on his feet.” Sidney Cox, Indirections for Those Who Want to Write 48-49 (1947).