Definition of parergon in US English:



  • 1A piece of work that is supplementary to or a byproduct of a larger work.

    • ‘In his essay on vernacular photography, Geoffrey Batchen uses Derrida's term ‘parerga’ [literally ‘next to main work’] to describe the personal, intimate photographies that have fallen outside the canon of ‘proper’ photography.’
    • ‘But the frame itself is part of a problematic list to which belongs such other terms like the parergon, the supplement and the hymen.’
    • ‘The effect of this rethinking can be seen, for instance, in Paolo Giovio's reference to Dosso's landscape paintings as parerga - distinct from, yet necessarily linked to, the artist's ‘proper works.’’
    1. 1.1archaic Work that is subsidiary to one's ordinary employment.
      ‘he pursued astronomy as a parergon’


Early 17th century: via Latin from Greek parergon, from para- ‘beside, additional’ + ergon ‘work’.