Baroque



(often initial capital letter) of or relating to a style of architecture and art originating in Italy in the early 17th century and variously prevalent in Europe and the New World for a century and a half, characterized by free and sculptural use of the classical orders and ornament, by forms in elevation and plan suggesting movement, and by dramatic effect in which architecture, painting, sculpture, and the decorative arts often worked to combined effect.
(sometimes initial capital letter) of or relating to the musical period following the Renaissance, extending roughly from 1600 to 1750.
extravagantly ornate, florid, and convoluted in character or style:
the baroque prose of the novel’s more lurid passages.
irregular in shape:
baroque pearls.
(often initial capital letter) the baroque style or period.
anything extravagantly ornamented, especially something so ornate as to be in bad taste.
an irregularly shaped pearl.
Contemporary Examples

It was impossible to focus on the actress, as she was wearing a gown that was as grand—and busy—as a baroque tapestry.
Rooney Mara, Michelle Williams, Kristen Wiig: 2012 Oscars’ Best, Worst, and Wilted Robin Givhan February 26, 2012

Inside, the club is built like a baroque theater, with a dance floor in the center and rows of loggias up the walls.
Russia’s Gold Digger Academy Peter Pomerantsev November 10, 2014

The clavecinistes of the French baroque were especially keen on the idea.
For the Birds! – and Art Lovers Blake Gopnik December 9, 2013

The Daily Pic: Could a baroque artist have painted a cross-dressing, heartbroken lover?
Juan Do Paints a Puzzle Picture Blake Gopnik January 2, 2013

Many say that The Great Beauty is the new Fellini, with its handsome surrealism, baroque expressions, and casual opulence.
The New Fellini: Paolo Sorrentino’s ‘The Great Beauty’ Jimmy So November 17, 2013

Historical Examples

In America, as in England, the baroque for things functional seemingly had little appeal.
Woodworking Tools 1600-1900 Peter C. Welsh

An early letter from Rome had a good deal to say about the baroque.
On the Stairs Henry B. Fuller

The church is gray limestone, like the residence, with a baroque faade.
The Haciendas of Mexico Paul Alexander Bartlett

Only it isn’t Moorish; it’s baroque—and a very good example.
Library of the World’s Best Literature, Ancient and Modern, Vol. 15 Various

But this is to anticipate, for the full revel of the baroque takes place in the seventeenth century.
A Short History of Italy Henry Dwight Sedgwick

noun (often capital)
a style of architecture and decorative art that flourished throughout Europe from the late 16th to the early 18th century, characterized by extensive ornamentation
a 17th-century style of music characterized by extensive use of the thorough bass and of ornamentation
any ornate or heavily ornamented style
adjective
denoting, being in, or relating to the baroque
(of pearls) irregularly shaped
adj.

1765, from French baroque (15c.) “irregular,” from Portuguese barroco “imperfect pearl,” of uncertain origin, perhaps related to Spanish berruca “a wart.”

This style in decorations got the epithet of Barroque taste, derived from a word signifying pearls and teeth of unequal size. [Fuseli’s translation of Winkelmann, 1765]

Klein suggests the name may be from Italian painter Federigo Barocci (1528-1612), a founder of the style. How to tell baroque from rococo, according to Fowler: “The characteristics of baroque are grandeur, pomposity, and weight; those of rococo are inconsequence, grace, and lightness.” But the two terms often used without distinction for styles featuring odd and excessive ornamentation.

baroque [(buh-rohk)]

A period in the arts, visual and musical, from about 1600 to about 1750, marked by elaborate ornamentation and efforts to create dramatic effects. Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederick Handel, and Antonio Vivaldi were great composers of the baroque era.

An early logic programming language written by Boyer and Moore in 1972.
[“Computational Logic: Structure Sharing and Proof of program Properties”, J. Moore, DCL Memo 67, U Edinburgh 1974].
[Jargon File]
(1995-02-22)

Feature-encrusted; complex; gaudy; verging on excessive. Said of hardware or (especially) software designs, this has many of the connotations of elephantine or monstrosity but is less extreme and not pejorative in itself. “Metafont even has features to introduce random variations to its letterform output. Now *that* is baroque!”
See also rococo.
[Jargon File]
(1995-02-22)

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