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

After a toast from Robbie—the evening’s host—guests which included the Haim Sisters, Maude Apatow, and Charlie Heaton all dined al fresco alongside the iconic pool at the Chateau Marmont. Vogue, "Margot Robbie Launched Chanel’s Latest Fragrance—Gabrielle Chanel Essence—With a Garden Dinner at Chateau Marmont," 13 Sep. 2019 It is served with sour cream, lettuce, tomato, cueritos, queso fresco, avocado and topped with Salsa Valentina. Natalia E. Contreras, Indianapolis Star, "Not your basic snacks: This Noblesville shop offers some of Mexico's best street foods," 10 Sep. 2019 While rooftops are the place to be in the summer for Instagram-able sunsets and sweet cocktails al fresco, their popularity dies down as the temperatures cool. Camila Vallejo,, "Happy hour of the month: Rooftop 120," 5 Sep. 2019 With its colorful awnings, spacious restaurant patios and string lights, Belden Place is one of the most picturesque places to dine al fresco in San Francisco. Janelle Bitker,, "Mexican restaurant Tin Cactus coming to San Francisco’s Belden Place," 28 Aug. 2019 Infectious disease researchers investigating the cases traced the infections back to beef from the US and soft cheeses from Mexico (mostly queso fresco, which is typically made from unpasteurized milk). Beth Mole, Ars Technica, "Deadly superbug outbreak in humans linked to antibiotic spike in cows," 23 Aug. 2019 These pieces help soften the grandiosity of the original ornamental fireplace, summer-sky ceiling frescoes, and gilded mirrors. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "These 6 European Apartments Are Basically Private Design Hotels," 23 Aug. 2019 There is a poetic bent to his vision, one that involves chiffon and bows and cascades of taffeta and ostrich feathers in the brilliant, vivid colors of romanesque frescoes. Mariano Vivanco; Fashion Editor: Miguel Enamorado, Harper's BAZAAR, "Valentino's Creative Director on Bringing His Poetic Vision to Fashion," 21 Aug. 2019 Only 12% of those surveyed supported destroying the painting, which consists of 13 frescoes. Phil Matier,, "The people want Washington High mural to stay — school official not swayed," 7 Aug. 2019

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

5 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for fresco

The first known use of fresco was in 1598

See more words from the same year

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

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).


friendly or mild

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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