pyrotechny (uncountable)

  1. The manufacture and use of fireworks.
    • 1850, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Representative Men, Boston: Phillips, Sampson & Co., Chapter 5, p. 214,
      [Shakespeare] was master of the revels to mankind. Is it not as if one should have, through majestic powers of science, the comets given into his hand, or the planets and their moons, and should draw them from their orbits to glare with the municipal fireworks on a holiday night, and advertise in all towns, “very superior pyrotechny this evening!”
    • 1928, Virginia Woolf, Orlando: A Biography, Penguin, 1963, Chapter 3, p. 89,
      ‘ […] I came to the conclusion that this demonstration of our skill in the art of pyrotechny was valuable, if only because it impressed upon them ... the superiority of the British.... […] ’
  2. (figuratively) Impressive, dazzling or virtuosic display.
    • 1848, Thomas De Quincey, “Charles Lamb and his Friends,” The North British Review, Volume 10, Number 19, p. 179,
      But if all rhetoric is a mode of pyrotechny, and all pyrotechnics are by necessity fugacious, yet even in these frail pomps there are many degrees of frailty.
    • 1890, Theodore Child, “Old Books and New,” The Art Amateur, Volume 22, 1 March, 1890, p. 87,
      It was Le Gascon who, not finding room enough for his exquisite pyrotechny on the outside of the volumes that he had to bind, conceived the idea of lining the side-covers with morocco and continuing his brilliant fiorituri on the inside too.
    • 1908, Lawrence Gilman, Aspects of Modern Opera, New York: John Lane, “A View of Puccini,” p. 36,
      A score of years ago those who cared at all for the dramatic element in opera, and the measure of whose delight was not filled up by the vocal pyrotechny which was the mainstay of the operas of the older répertoire, found in these music-dramas their chief solace and satisfaction.
  3. The use of fire in chemistry and metallurgy.
    • 1670, Uncredited translator, The Golden Calf by John Frederick Helvetius (1667), London: John Starkey, Chapter 4,
      Indeed all men well skilled in the Chymical Science, have a necessity of assenting to me in this, viz. that Pyrotechny is the Mother, and Nurse of various noble Sciences and Arts.
    • 1701, Anonymous, Bellum Medicinale, or The Present State of Doctors and Apothecaries in London, London: M. Fabian, Chapter 1, p. 4,
      Nor have the Physicians only neglected, but been ignorant of the Pharmaceutick Part. Neither can the Apothecaries any more than the Physicians pretend themselves compleat herein, being generally alike ignorant of the chief and most artful Part, Pyrotechny, leaving its most effectual Preparations to the Care of those, whose Care is only how they may make them, not most adapted to the Cure of Diseases, but to their best Advantage […]
  4. (obsolete) The manufacture and use of gunpowder, bombs etc.
    • 1867, James Gilchrist Benton, A Course of Instruction in Ordnance and Gunnery, New York: D. Van Nostrand, 3rd edition, Part I, Chapter I, p. 7,
      Gunpowder and the compositions of pyrotechny are the means used, in modern warfare, to propel projectiles, explode mines, destroy ships and buildings, and furnish light and signals for the operations of an army at night.
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