im·​pas·​to im-ˈpa-(ˌ)stō How to pronounce impasto (audio)
plural impastos
: the thick application of a pigment to a canvas or panel in painting
also : the body of pigment so applied
: raised decoration on ceramic ware usually of slip or enamel
impastoed adjective

Examples of impasto in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The paint itself ranges from thick impasto to thin washes that can presage those of Color Field paintings. Roberta Smith, New York Times, 27 July 2023 The show focuses on Kapoor’s painting practice, displaying corporeal expressions on canvas that are both broad in color and texture — layering thick, blood-red impasto. Steven Vargas, Los Angeles Times, 12 Apr. 2023 Some are small, less than two feet square; these tend to be lushly painted, with thick impasto and bravura brushwork. Calvin Tomkins, The New Yorker, 16 Jan. 2023 Swirling accents of kelly green or marigold delight in their contrast, as do little flecks of impasto on lips or knuckles. Grace Edquist, Vogue, 8 Nov. 2022 The patch of impasto on the flank was the artist’s only real flourish. Sam Knight, The New Yorker, 19 Sep. 2022 Color seems daubed onto the screen with the thick impasto of Impressionist brushwork, and the confirmation of Godard’s hands-on reconstruction comes with special effects (borrowed from Jean Cocteau) to signify rebirth. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 16 Sep. 2022 The result, painted in heavy impasto, was tiny (just 9 by 6 inches) and predictably controversial. Nick Glass, CNN, 10 Sep. 2022 The thick impasto of the hydrangeas above the figures matches the lushness of the blossom itself. Cate McQuaid,, 19 July 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'impasto.' 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, from impastare

First Known Use

1784, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of impasto was in 1784

Dictionary Entries Near impasto

Cite this Entry

“Impasto.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Apr. 2024.

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