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A cult of refined language and manners that established itself in French high society of the mid-17th century, led by the salon of Catherine de Vivonne, Marquise de Rambouillet from about 1618 to 1650. The précieuses devised elegant expressions to remedy what they felt to be the indelicacies of French speech; many of these are recorded in A. B. de Somaize's Dictionnaire des précieuses (1660). This sometimes excessive fashion for periphrasis was satirized by Molière in his one-act comedy Les Précieuses ridicules (1659). The English term preciosity has a less specific sense, referring to any kind of affectation.

Subjects: Literature.

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