The name Giclee was coined in 1991 by Jack Duganne while employed at Nash editions In California. Nash Editions was owned by musician Graham Nash who also is an avid photographer. Nash was using an Iris printer to produce prints of his photographs. Digital printing was in it's infancy and frankly most digital printing technologies we not viewed in a good light when compared to traditional hand crafted printing processes (lithographs, serigraph, etchings etc). The Iris printer was initially designed to be a rapid proofing system for offset or web printing. One of the advantages of this printing technology was that it allowed you to proof on the same substrate (paper) on which your final print would be printed on. The Iris proofing system was capable of printing on newsprint, coated paper and even artist papers. This made it capable of a very accurate representation of what a final print would look like on different materials.
At the time most art patrons were not familiar with the technology and Nash did not want to associate his prints with current digital printing technology which clearly showed a digital signature (pixelazation, printing artifacts, etc) . He needed a better sounding name than inkjet print. Iris prints use four nozzles to spray ink. Arches watercolor and art papers are made in France. French for nozzle is gicleur. French for Spraying is gicler. Gicleeis the feminine form of gicler and was created as a derivative of the similar terms.
Initially the giclee name was attributed to only Iris Inkjet prints on matte papers and canvas. In the late 1990's Colorspan borrowed the Giclee moniker when it introduced the Giclee Printmaker FA a drum based bubble jet printer. The design concept was amazing , the execution weak. It did however open the definition of Giclee to all ink jet prints. Today virtually any inkjet print can be called a giclee.