fres·​co | \ ˈfre-(ˌ)skō How to pronounce fresco (audio) \
plural frescoes

Definition of fresco

1 : the art of painting on freshly spread moist lime plaster with water-based pigments
2 : a painting executed in fresco

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Other Words from fresco

fresco transitive verb

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 With the comfort-food boxes checked, Mi Familia moved into more refined territory with an appetizer tower called Chicharrón de Ribeye, a fortifying and fresh layering of crispy rib-eye steak, avocado, queso fresco and pickled onions. Mike Sutter,, "Review: Mi Familia de Mi Tierra at The Rim has better food than the original Cortez family’s Mexican restaurant in downtown San Antonio," 6 Feb. 2020 Finishing the dish were crunchy tortilla strips and a sprinkling of queso fresco. Susan Selasky, Detroit Free Press, "These were 10 of our favorite bites from the Detroit Free Press Wine + Food Experience," 14 Sep. 2019 Padua's Scrovegni Chapel, where art lovers flock to experience Giotto's beautifully preserved frescoes, now lets peak-season visitors book nighttime visits (between 7 and 10 p.m.). Rick Steves, USA TODAY, "Going to Italy this year? Here's what you need to know, like which tours to book early," 5 Feb. 2020 Topped with crema, queso fresco, shaved cabbage, guacamole salsa. oregonlive, "Dumpling Week is back, with 35 Portland restaurants offering special dishes," 29 Jan. 2020 Drawings will include studies for the Sistine Chapel ceiling fresco, sculptures for the tomb of Giuliano de’ Medici, and the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica. Steven Litt,, "Michelangelo, Liu Wei, ‘seenUNseen,’ and more in galleries, museums: Fall Arts Guide 2019," 15 Sep. 2019 Fittingly, her home came with its own chapel upstairs, a round room decorated with ornate frescoes, which today contains a record player and a couch. New York Times, "Ann Demeulemeester Doesn’t Miss Fashion at All. She Has Other Plans.," 22 Aug. 2019 Beyond the al fresco entertaining areas are divided and fenced acres that are ready to accommodate livestock. Darla Guillen Gilthorpe, Houston Chronicle, "5-acre, 7,400-square-foot home under foreclosure for $800K in Edinburg, Texas," 16 Jan. 2020 The two spaces are designed to create an indoor-outdoor al fresco experience for guests to be immersed in nature. Rachel King, Fortune, "Viking’s new small-ship expedition cruises will offer close-up views of a rapidly changing Antarctica and Arctic Circle," 16 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fresco.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fresco

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fresco

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

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Time Traveler for fresco

Time Traveler

The first known use of fresco was in 1598

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Statistics for fresco

Last Updated

23 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fresco.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for fresco


How to pronounce fresco (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of fresco

: the art of painting on wet plaster
: a painting that is done on wet plaster

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More from Merriam-Webster on fresco

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fresco

Spanish Central: Translation of fresco

Nglish: Translation of fresco for Spanish Speakers

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