[im-pas-toh, -pah-stoh]

noun Painting.

the laying on of paint thickly.
the paint so laid on.
enamel or slip applied to a ceramic object to form a decoration in low relief.

Origin of impasto

1775–85; < Italian, noun derivative of impastare to impaste Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for impasto

Contemporary Examples of impasto

Historical Examples of impasto

  • His brush knew one stroke only—his impasto was laid on at once.

    Franz Hals

    Edgcumbe Staley

  • In a photograph you are not disturbed by colour, or by impasto.

  • All is careful, clear and precise, and there are no passages of heavy colouring or impasto work.

    William Blake

    Irene Langridge

  • It is specially noticeable for the thick body (impasto) in which it is applied, so as very often to stand out in visible relief.

  • If he makes haste he may become clumsy and rough, leaving here and there inequalities of impasto.


    Sidney Allnutt

British Dictionary definitions for impasto



paint applied thickly, so that brush and palette knife marks are evident
the technique of applying paint in this way

Word Origin for impasto

C18: from Italian, from impastare; see impaste
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 impasto

laying on of colors thickly," 1784, from Italian impasto, noun of action from impastare "to raise paste; to put in paste," from assimilated form of in- "into, in" (see in- (2)) + pasta "paste" (see pasta).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper