gri·​saille gri-ˈzī How to pronounce grisaille (audio) -ˈzāl How to pronounce grisaille (audio)
: decoration in tones of a single color and especially gray designed to produce a three-dimensional effect

Examples of grisaille in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Only in the 1980s would Ruscha consent to pick up a spray gun, in large-scale, word-free grisailles of an elephant climbing a hill, or two ships tossed at sea. Jason Farago, New York Times, 7 Sep. 2023 The 18k rose gold model, the Galaxia, has a more extensive grisaille instead of a lattice grid. Carol Besler, Robb Report, 18 Apr. 2022 An 18k rose gold version, the Galaxia, has more extensive grisaille instead of a lattice grid. Paige Reddinger, Robb Report, 30 Mar. 2022 In fact, to render Black skin tones, Sherald uses grisaille, a method of using gray monochromes, historically used to render or imitate sculpture. Tom Teicholz, Forbes, 15 Apr. 2021 The technique was popular during the 1880s, and grisaille paintings were often featured in illustrated editions of the author’s works. Brigit Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Jan. 2020 The tonality is gray, or grisaille, because this is the underpainting, in the old-master technique, that Elizabeth learned at art school. Dodie Kazanjian, Vogue, 10 Oct. 2018 In 1921, Elizabeth Keith, a Scotswoman who was one of the very rare westerners to visit Japanese-occupied Korea, made a woodblock print of the gorge, whose rich greens and blues sharply contrast with the Korean grisailles. Jason Farago, New York Times, 8 Feb. 2018 Sherald uses grisaille — a method of painting in gray monochrome — for her subjects’ skin. Dushko Petrovich, New York Times, 12 Feb. 2018 See More

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

Word History


French, from gris gray, from Middle French — more at grizzle

First Known Use

1848, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of grisaille was in 1848

Dictionary Entries Near grisaille

Cite this Entry

“Grisaille.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

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