[bah-ri-leef, bas-; bah-ri-leef, bas-]
See more synonyms for bas-relief on

Origin of bas-relief

1660–70; < French, on the model of Italian bassorilievo. Cf. basso-relievo, base2, relief2
Also called low relief. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for bas-relief


Examples from the Web for bas-relief

Historical Examples of bas-relief

  • Here and there was an Italian cabinet surmounted with Delft, and here and there a bas-relief.

    The Moon and Sixpence

    W. Somerset Maugham

  • This fragment contains a bas-relief representing the execution of a martyr.

    Pagan and Christian Rome

    Rodolfo Lanciani

  • They were holding hands in an attitude suggestive of a bas-relief.

  • He found a bas-relief engraving of a hand pointing to a corner of the door.

    Islands of Space

    John W Campbell

  • Your bas-relief has, on the scale, say the depth of the third of an inch.

British Dictionary definitions for bas-relief


  1. sculpture in low relief, in which the forms project slightly from the background but no part is completely detached from itAlso called (Italian): basso rilievo

Word Origin for bas-relief

C17: from French, from Italian basso rilievo low relief; see base ², relief
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

Word Origin and History for bas-relief

1660s, from French bas-relief, a loan-translation of Italian basso-rilievo "low relief, raised work."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

bas-relief in Culture


[(bah ruh-leef)]

A kind of carving or sculpture in which the figures are raised a few inches from a flat background to give a three-dimensional effect. The term is French for “low relief.”

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.