sgraf·​fi·​to zgra-ˈfē-(ˌ)tō How to pronounce sgraffito (audio)
plural sgraffiti zgra-ˈfē-(ˌ)tē How to pronounce sgraffito (audio)
: decoration by cutting away parts of a surface layer (as of plaster or clay) to expose a different colored ground compare graffito
: something (such as traditional Pennsylvania Dutch pottery) decorated with sgraffito

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The gowns of Richard and St. Edmund are done in sgraffito, their paint applied over gold and then partly scraped away. Willard Spiegelman, WSJ, 17 Jan. 2020 The earliest paintings were done in the sgraffito technique, where a light layer of plaster is applied over a darker one and then scraped off to create patterns with the color underneath (think large-scale scratch art). Hadley Keller, House Beautiful, 23 July 2019 Etch a sketch: The village of Pontresina, in Switzerland’s Engadine Valley, is known for an unusual ornamentation on its buildings called sgraffito. National Geographic, 26 Mar. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'sgraffito.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Italian, from past participle of sgraffire to scratch, produce sgraffito

First Known Use

circa 1730, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of sgraffito was circa 1730

Dictionary Entries Near sgraffito

Cite this Entry

“Sgraffito.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Feb. 2023.

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