Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Something, such as a master key, that permits one to pass or go at will.
  • n. A border, such as a mat, that is used to frame or mount a picture.
  • n. An adhesive tape or a gummed paper used for a similar purpose.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. That by which one can pass anywhere; a safe-conduct.
  • n. A master key; a latchkey.
  • n. A light picture frame or mat of cardboard, wood, etc., usually put between the picture and the glass, and sometimes serving for several pictures.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. That by which one can pass anywhere; a safe-conduct.
  • n. A master key; a latchkey.
  • n. A light picture frame or mat of cardboard, wood, or the like, usually put between the picture and the glass, and sometimes serving for several pictures.
  • n. A strip of adhesive paper or gummed tape used to mount a picture between a piece of glass and a backing.
  • n. The method of mounting a picture between a piece of glass and a backing, using a passe-partout{4}.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. That by means of which one can pass anywhere; a master-key; a latch-key.
  • n. In engraving, an engraved plate or block forming an ornamental border around an aperture into which the engraved portrait or picture may be inserted;. also, a typographical frame or ornamental border about a page, etc.: a French use.
  • n. 3 A picture-frame consisting usually of a pasteboard back and a piece of glass, between which a drawing or engraving is placed, often with a plain or ornamented mat between it and the glass, the whole being held in position by means of strips of paper pasted over the edges.
  • To place in a passe-partout frame.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a mounting for a picture using gummed tape
  • n. key that secures entrance everywhere

Etymologies

French : passer, to pass + partout, everywhere.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
French (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The second is passe-partout: "Inscribed on the slightly foxed passe-partout... were the words: Gracie Irlam, Urmston nr Manchester, 17 May 1944."

    languagehat.com: W.G. SEBALD.

  • Thanks for telling us about your doughty passe-partout!

    languagehat.com: W.G. SEBALD.

  • Hence passe-partout frame, a frame ready made with such a mount for reception of photographs, etc...

    languagehat.com: W.G. SEBALD.

  • The passe-partout is STILL sticking the three together and I wonder just how many modern tapes have this lasting sticky strength?

    languagehat.com: W.G. SEBALD.

  • Slayback's dun-colored walls was a passe-partout snowscape, night closing in, and pink cottage windows peering out from under eaves.

    Americans All Stories of American Life of To-Day

  • D'autant plus que l'emploi inconditionnel de la formule a contribué à faire de l'information un terme passe-partout, très éloigné même de sa théorisation mathématique (Shannon), de sa signification informatique initiale.

    Entretiens / Interviews / Entrevistas

  • This manner and bearing of his, he looked upon as a _passe-partout_, and there was certainly one item in his character that outshadowed all the rest, namely his conceit, or self-sufficiency which was constantly asserting itself in his every look and action.

    Honor Edgeworth Ottawa's Present Tense

  • Then place on the whole a glass plate of the same size as the first and border like a passe-partout.

    Photographic Reproduction Processes

  • I framed my copy as tastefully as I could, in a simple but harmonious _passe-partout_, and sent it to Miss Mehitable, with Fanny's love.

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 18, No. 109, November, 1866

  • His eyes once more roved about the room as if he were seeking something, and stepping deliberately to a passe-partout photograph of King George V., he ripped off the binding with his pocket-knife and tore from it the glass.

    L.P.M. : the end of the Great War

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