Borrowed from French madeleine, from earlier gâteau à la Madeleine, after the given name Madeleine (“Magdalene”), of uncertain reference: attributed in some sources to a 19th-century pastry cook Madeleine Paulmier, whose existence is now considered dubious.
In sense 2, used with reference to the cake's function in the extract below, taken from Marcel Proust's In Search of Lost Time.
madeleine (plural madeleines)
- A French type of small gateau or sponge cake, often shaped like an elongated scallop shell.
1981, Marcel Proust; CK Scott Moncrieff & Terence Kilmartin (translators), Swann's Way, Folio Society, published 2005, page 44:
- And suddenly the memory revealed itself. The taste was that of the little piece of madeleine which on Sunday mornings at Combray […] my aunt Léonie used to give me, dipping it first in her own cup of tea or tisane.
2003, Emily Luchetti, A Passion for Desserts, Chronicle Books, page 20:
- Madeleine batter can be made in advance and refrigerated.
- (figuratively) Something which brings back a memory; a source of nostalgia or evocative memories.
2005, Roger Ebert, Rogert Ebert's Movie Yearbook, page 784:
- Every five years or so, in the middle of another task, I'll look at them and a particular cover will bring memory flooding back like a madeleine.
- “madeleine” (US) / “madeleine” (UK) in Oxford Dictionaries, Oxford University Press.
- “madeleine” in le Trésor de la langue française informatisé (The Digitized Treasury of the French Language).
|Inflection of madeleine (Kotus type 8/nalle, no gradation)|
- Rhymes: -ɛn
madeleine f (plural madeleines)
- madeleine (small gateau in the shape of a scallop shell)
- (figuratively) madeleine (something which brings back a memory)