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

Keep scrolling for more

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 The cheesemonger lets out a pungent smell and offers samples to those who aren’t simply coming for his famous queso fresco. Eric Barton,, "Postcard from the edge of a pandemic," 11 Apr. 2021 Queso fresco brings richness and tang to the vegetarian carrot-potato filling. Kitty Greenwald, WSJ, "These Meatless Tacos Are Quick and Satisfying," 8 Apr. 2021 Using lasers, experts from the Archaeological Park of Pompeii were able to restore the fresco's original striking colors and scenes, the group shared in a press release on Thursday. Cailey Rizzo, Travel + Leisure, "Restored 2nd-century Frescoes in Pompeii Reveal Vibrant Colors and Scenes," 26 Feb. 2021 Palazzo combines comfort in first-rate Italian fresco di lana, Tasmanian and Japanese flat-textured wools. Tiziana Cardini, Vogue, "These Are the New Names to Know From Milan Fashion Week, Fall 2021," 3 Mar. 2021 Last week Mohamed met with Balma to view the first fresco and drawings of others. Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune, "From Minnesota to Italy: Rare fresco project spotlights biblical women," 6 Mar. 2021 The El Abuelito cheese recall covers all of their queso fresco products with sell-by dates through 03/28/21, and spans seven states. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "There's a Soft Cheese Recall for 17 Products Due to Possible Listeria Contamination," 23 Feb. 2021 Removing the fresco, the lawsuit argues, can't be done safely. Sarah Ladd, The Courier-Journal, "Wendell Berry joins lawsuit to stop University of Kentucky from removing controversial mural," 6 July 2020 The snack bar was partially excavated in 2019, leading to the discovery of a counter decorated with a fresco of a Nereid, or sea nymph, riding a seahorse, along with what appears to be a depiction of the restaurant itself. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, "Ancient Pompeiians Stopped at This ‘Snack Bar’ to Feast on Snails, Fish and Wine," 30 Dec. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about fresco

Statistics for fresco

Last Updated

16 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fresco.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

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

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for fresco



English Language Learners Definition of fresco

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

More from Merriam-Webster on fresco

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for fresco

Nglish: Translation of fresco for Spanish Speakers

Comments on fresco

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


Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • 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?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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