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[sfoo-mah-toh] /sfuˈmɑ toʊ/
noun, Fine Arts.
the subtle and minute gradation of tone and color used to blur or veil the contours of a form in painting.
Origin of sfumato
1840-50; < Italian, past participle of sfumare to gradate tone or color, equivalent to s- < Latin ex- ex-1 + fumare to smoke < Latin fumāre; see fume Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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British Dictionary definitions for sfumato


(in painting) a gradual transition between areas of different colour, avoiding sharp outlines
Word Origin
from Italian, from sfumato shaded off, from sfumare to shade off, from Latin ex-1 + fūmāre to smoke
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for sfumato

1847, from Italian sfumato, literally "smoked," from Latin fumus "smoke" (see fume (n.)).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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