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

The list includes restaurants in 19 states and Washington D.C. Sunny California tops the list with 31 of the best al fresco restaurants. Rasha Ali, USA TODAY, "Take it outside with one of these 100 best al fresco restaurants in America," 11 June 2019 On the opposite side of the room, a wall of oversized windows and sliding-glass doors gives way to a patio, which occasionally accommodates drying laundry, and usually hosts birds and squirrels — who dine al fresco courtesy of Whitley. Karen Robinson-jacobs,, "Actress-comedienne Kym Whitley pictures family in her den," 8 June 2019 Wheeler’s library and living room, featuring original frescoes, are spared. Amanda Sims, House Beautiful, "The Reno of This Historic Catskills Cottage Is Impeccable," 23 May 2019 And there's one more bonus to an al fresco tour: While there is no photography allowed inside the house, the grounds seem tailor-made for Instagram. Cator Sparks, House Beautiful, "The Fascinating History Behind This Moorish-Style Home in Upstate New York," 3 May 2019 Looking for a table covering that will stand up to stains at your next al-fresco party? Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, "What to Do with Fabric Scraps, No Matter How Little You Have Leftover," 17 Apr. 2019 The designer hinted at the garden by giving the surrounding walls a fresco-like treatment: three coats of gray plaster, topped with a layer of white wax. Karen Bruno, WSJ, "A Staircase That Takes a Step Up," 21 Aug. 2018 Beyond al fresco dining options and bright pedicure shade choices, there's another pressing concern on the minds of diehard warm weather enthusiasts at the moment. Jenna Rennert, Vogue, "9 Instant Body Bronzers For People Who Hate Self Tanner," 12 May 2018 Mythological frescoes, statues and fountains festoon the house, now an intimate hotel. Kimberly Chrisman Campbell, WSJ, "Getting Cozy with Coco: Touring the Private Villas of Fashion Icons," 13 Sep. 2018

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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Statistics for fresco

Last Updated

15 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for fresco

The first known use of fresco was in 1598

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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

Spanish Central: Translation of 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).


to take the place or position of

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