bresaola

noun bre·sao·la \ bre-ˈsō-lə , 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 SteimanWine Spectator15 Mar. 1993

There's more!

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!
Already a subscriber? Log in.

Origin and Etymology of 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.


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up bresaola? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

serious difficulty or misfortune

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one-green-toy-robot-amidst-many-red-toy-robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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