bre·​sao·​la | \ bre-ˈsō-lə How to pronounce bresaola (audio) , bri-ˈzō- \

Definition of bresaola

: air-dried, salt-cured beef that is sliced very thin and typically served as an appetizer Most trattorias serve bresaola simply, sliced thin, often with a drizzle of olive oil.— Harvey Steiman, Wine Spectator, 15 Mar. 1993

Love words?

You must — there are over 200,000 words in our free online dictionary, but you are looking for one that’s only in the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary.

Start your free trial today and get unlimited access to America's largest dictionary, with:

  • More than 250,000 words that aren't in our free dictionary
  • Expanded definitions, etymologies, and usage notes
  • Advanced search features
  • Ad free!

First Known Use of bresaola

1963, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for bresaola

borrowed from northern regional Italian bresàola, brasàola, borrowed from Upper Italian (Val Bregaglia) brazawla, (Chiavenna) brisàvola, going back to a presumed diminutive *brasatula of *brasata "slice of cooked meat, cutlet," from *brasare "to cook over coals, toast, roast" (whence literary Italian brasare, earlier brasciare, bragiare, Piedmontese brasè, Milanese brasà, verb corresponding to early Italian bragia, brascia, bracia "live coals") + *-ata -ade

Note: Some recent Italian publications contain quite speculative etymologies of bresàola, occasioned by the now obscured relation between the etymon and the contemporary meaning of the word in the Valtellina—hence, one of several hypotheses is that the base bras-, bres- alludes to embers used to dry the meat, or to heat the place where the meat is dried (see, for example, the article "L'etimologia documenta un'antichissima origine della bresaola" in the culinary magazine Premiata Salumeria Italiana, no. 5, 1999). However, outcomes of pre-Upper Italian *brasatula are well-attested outside the Valtellina, e.g., brasavole (plural) "fetta di carne di maiale, braciola" ("slice of pork, braciola") in the 1549 cookbook of Cristoforo di Messisbugo (of Ferrara), and Bolognese brasadla/brazádla "braciuola, fetta sottile di carne cotte sulla graticola o in padella" ("braciola, thin slice of meat cooked on a grill or in a pan"). For bibliography of attestations, see Max Pfister et al., Lessico etimologico italiano (Wiesbaden: Reichert, 1979-), vol. 7, column 191.

Learn More About bresaola

Time Traveler for bresaola

Time Traveler

The first known use of bresaola was in 1963

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near bresaola




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for bresaola

Cite this Entry

“Bresaola.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jun. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon


Test Your Vocabulary

Which Word Does Not Belong?

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!