• synonyms


noun, plural ges·soes.
  1. gypsum or plaster of Paris prepared with glue for use as a surface for painting.
  2. any plasterlike preparation to prepare a surface for painting, gilding, etc.
  3. a prepared surface of plaster or plasterlike material for painting, gilding, etc.
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Origin of gesso

1590–1600; < Italian < Latin gypsum gypsum
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for gesso

Historical Examples

  • The evidence is in favour of white grounds, of size and gesso.

    Blackwood's Edinburgh Magazine, Volume 65, No. 402, April, 1849


  • No color is so noble as the color of a good painting on canvas or gesso.

  • The plaster, in this case, is to be considered as the gesso ground on panel or canvas.

  • One will take naturally to oil-painting, another may 68 find clay or gesso her means of artistic expression.

  • It was probably painted in water-colours with white of egg or glue on a medium of gesso.

    William Blake

    Irene Langridge

British Dictionary definitions for gesso


  1. a white ground of plaster and size, used esp in the Middle Ages and Renaissance to prepare panels or canvas for painting or gilding
  2. any white substance, esp plaster of Paris, that forms a ground when mixed with water
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Word Origin

C16: from Italian: chalk, gypsum
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 gesso

plaster of Paris, 1590s, from Italian gesso, from Latin gypsum (see gypsum).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper