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  1. visually charming or quaint, as if resembling or suitable for a painting: a picturesque fishing village.
  2. (of writing, speech, etc.) strikingly graphic or vivid; creating detailed mental images: a picturesque description of the Brazilian jungle.
  3. having pleasing or interesting qualities; strikingly effective in appearance: a picturesque hat.

Origin of picturesque

1695–1705; < French pittoresque < Italian pittoresco (pittor(e) painter1 + -esco -esque), with assimilation to picture
Related formspic·tur·esque·ly, adverbpic·tur·esque·ness, nounun·pic·tur·esque, adjectiveun·pic·tur·esque·ly, adverbun·pic·tur·esque·ness, noun
Can be confusedpicaresque picturesque

Synonyms for picturesque

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2. Picturesque, graphic, vivid apply to descriptions that produce a strong, especially a visual, impression. Picturesque is a less precise term than the other two. A picturesque account, though striking and interesting, may be inaccurate or may reflect personal ideas: He called the landscape picturesque. A graphic account is more objective and factual: it produces a clear, definite impression, and carries conviction. A vivid account is told with liveliness and intenseness; the description is so interesting, or even exciting, that the reader or hearer may be emotionally stirred. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for picturesque

Contemporary Examples of picturesque

Historical Examples of picturesque

  • A most picturesque little place is this, seen from the railway.

    The Roof of France

    Matilda Betham-Edwards

  • The village was picturesque, in the variety of its edifices, though all were rude.

  • The revulsion accentuated her enjoyment of the picturesque aspects of the scene.

    The Leopard Woman

    Stewart Edward White

  • It's just the picturesque dignity of the costume, and the pose, perhaps.

    It Happened in Egypt

    C. N. Williamson

  • It is no merit to be picturesque—I have greater merits, perhaps—but I may be, by an accident.

    Little Dorrit

    Charles Dickens

British Dictionary definitions for picturesque


  1. visually pleasing, esp in being striking or vivida picturesque view
  2. having a striking or colourful character, nature, etc
  3. (of language) graphic; vivid
Derived Formspicturesquely, adverbpicturesqueness, noun

Word Origin for picturesque

C18: from French pittoresque (but also influenced by picture), from Italian pittoresco, from pittore painter, from Latin pictor
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 picturesque

1703, on pattern of French pittoresque, a loan-word from Italian pittoresco, literally "pictorial" (1660s), from pittore "painter," from Latin pictorem (nominative pictor); see painter (n.1). As a noun from 1749. Related: Picturesquely; picturesqueness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper