ges·​so ˈje-(ˌ)sō How to pronounce gesso (audio)
plural gessoes
: plaster of paris or gypsum prepared with glue for use in painting or making bas-reliefs
: a paste prepared by mixing whiting with size or glue and spread upon a surface to fit it for painting or gilding
gessoed adjective

Examples of gesso in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web And whereas most painters favor white gesso to prepare a canvas, Mckinney chooses an almost counterintuitive layer of black. M.h. Miller, New York Times, 17 Feb. 2024 The ground layer appears to be a single layer of lead white with no gesso. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 25 Oct. 2023 Strawberry syrup and banana skin preserved in gesso offer bright, sticky-sweet contrast in some shadows. Jennifer Piejko, Los Angeles Times, 7 Sep. 2023 Ceramic mirrors by Mithe Espelt, a large-scale work by Lou Fink, and a gesso artwork by Jonathan Todryk dot the pink-and-terra-cotta walls. Helena Madden, ELLE Decor, 23 June 2023 The soft curves of the gesso chandelier by Currey & Company juxtapose the linearity of the cedar plank ceiling. Marni Elyse Katz,, 9 June 2023 Today, canvases are typically prepared with a mixture called gesso. Teresa Nowakowski, Smithsonian Magazine, 30 May 2023 Endler notes that from the female’s perspective, the male’s display items are often slightly larger than the ones in the gesso. Ed Yong, Discover Magazine, 19 Jan. 2012 And so the Graces dance around its frame, Pan pipes, the gesso birds fly, and the mirror records the days and seasons. Perdita Buchan, The Christian Science Monitor, 11 Apr. 2022

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

Word History


Italian, literally, gypsum, from Latin gypsum

First Known Use

1596, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of gesso was in 1596

Dictionary Entries Near gesso

Cite this Entry

“Gesso.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


ges·​so ˈjes-ō How to pronounce gesso (audio)
plural gessoes
: a material like plaster used in art (as for modeling)

More from Merriam-Webster on gesso

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