fresco

noun

fres·​co ˈfre-(ˌ)skō How to pronounce fresco (audio)
plural frescoes
1
: the art of painting on freshly spread moist lime plaster with water-based pigments
2
: a painting executed in fresco
fresco transitive verb

Did you know?

If the word fresco brings to mind images of eating an alfresco meal—that is, a meal eaten outside “in the fresh air”—your gut is on the right track: fresco is Italian for “fresh,” and the culinary usage is relatively common in English. But what puts the “fresh” in the English fresco is not so appetizing: the name of this art form refers to the fresh plaster used in it. Fresco is an ancient art, used as early as the Minoan civilization on Crete, but it reached the height of its popularity during the Italian Renaissance of the late 15th and early 16th centuries. Fresco comes in two types: in fresco secco (“dry fresco”), a dry wall is soaked in limewater, and lime-resistant pigments are then applied; in buon fresco (“good fresco”; buon fresco is also called “true” fresco), used by Michelangelo in his 16th century Sistine Chapel frescos, pigments are fused directly with wet plaster.

Did you know?

Fresco and the Art World

The Italian word fresco means “fresh” and comes from a Germanic word akin to the source of English fresh. In the Renaissance, pittura a fresco, meaning “painting freshly,” referred to paint applied while the plaster on the wall was still wet, as opposed to pittura a secco “painting dryly,” in which paint is applied when the plaster was dry. In English, fresco appears earliest as part of the phrase in fresco; it does not appear as a noun referring to a painting until 1670. A different sense of Italian fresco, meaning “fresh air,” appears in the phrase al fresco “outdoors,” borrowed into English as alfresco and used particularly in reference to dining outdoors.

Examples of fresco in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Earlier this year, archaeologists announced the discovery of a banquet room in Pompeii, which was decorated with beautiful frescoes of mythological characters inspired by the Trojan War. Victoria Bisset, Washington Post, 20 June 2024 An unsung gem is the Emanuel Vigeland Museum, complete with frescoes and gong bath concerts. Alexandra Pereira, Travel + Leisure, 15 May 2024 But despite all these high-end amenities, the real star was the ceiling: almost preposterously high and decorated with an intricate fresco representing the four rivers that criss-cross the region. Nick Hendry, theweek, 25 Apr. 2024 During recent digs, archaeologists have found a shrine with rare blue walls, children’s graffiti and a fresco depicting flatbread, among many other discoveries. Sarah Kuta, Smithsonian Magazine, 21 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for fresco 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'fresco.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Italian, from fresco fresh, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German frisc fresh

First Known Use

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of fresco was in 1598

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Dictionary Entries Near fresco

Cite this Entry

“Fresco.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/fresco. Accessed 16 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

fresco

noun
fres·​co ˈfres-kō How to pronounce fresco (audio)
plural frescoes
1
: the art of painting on freshly spread moist plaster
2
: a painting done in fresco
Etymology

Italian, from fresco "fresh"

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