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Douglas Harper's Etymology Dictionary

1894, from French phrase en plein air, literally "in the open air." The style developed among French impressionists c.1870.

Usage examples of "plein-air".

Prints of plein-air landscapes and still lifes favoring fruit and fish hung on the walls, along with a bronze Zodiac wheel and an old Christmas wreath.

Georgia O’Keeffe prints hung on the walls, along with some muddy-looking California plein-air oils.

On the walls was a scattering of muddy California plein-air landscapes—the kind of stuff the galleries in Carmel had been trying to palm off as masterpieces for years.