Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Of, suggesting, or suitable for a picture: picturesque rocky shores.
  • adj. Striking or interesting in an unusual way; irregularly or quaintly attractive: a picturesque French café.
  • adj. Strikingly expressive or vivid: picturesque language.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Resembling or worthy of a picture or painting; having the qualities of a picture or painting. scenic

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Forming, or fitted to form, a good or pleasing picture; representing with the clearness or ideal beauty appropriate to a picture; expressing that peculiar kind of beauty which is agreeable in a picture, natural or artificial; graphic; vivid

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Picture-like; possessing notably original and pleasing qualities such as would be effective in a picture; forming or fitted to form an interesting or striking picture, as a mountain waterfall, or a pine-covered headland, or a gay costume amid appropriate surroundings.
  • Strikingly graphic or vivid; abounding or diversified with striking and vivid imagery: as, picturesque language.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. strikingly expressive
  • adj. suggesting or suitable for a picture; pretty as a picture

Etymologies

Alteration of French pittoresque, from Italian pittoresco, from pittore, painter, from Latin pictor; see Pictor.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
picture +‎ -esque, from Italian pittoresco, from pittura ("a picture, painting"); see picture. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • All the pleasure which the people of the nineteenth century take in art, is in pictures, sculpture, minor objects of virtù, or mediæval architecture, which we enjoy under the term picturesque: no pleasure is taken anywhere in modern buildings, and we find all men of true feeling delighting to escape out of modern cities into natural scenery: hence, as I shall hereafter show, that peculiar love of landscape, which is characteristic of the age.

    Selections From the Works of John Ruskin

  • At present this forms one of the very few objects to which the term picturesque may properly be applied, existing in the States; and, linked as it is with the recollections of its gallant founders, I confess it laid strong hold of my imagination, absorbing my eyes and interest as long as I could keep it in view.

    Impressions of America During The Years 1833, 1834, and 1835. In Two Volumes, Volume II.

  • Damn it, I took him to see a glassworks the other day; thought it would appeal to his sense of what you call the picturesque; but, Lord bless me, he asked how much the blowers were paid and wanted me to raise their pay on the spot.

    A Hoosier Chronicle

  • For a week or two it seemed that a cottage might drop in their way; but it happened to be what you call picturesque, and a rich man snapped it up.

    News from the Duchy

  • In all this I cannot too strongly mark the utter absence of any trace of the feeling for what we call the picturesque, and the constant dwelling of the writer's mind on what was available, pleasant, or useful: his ideas respecting all landscape being not uncharacteristially summed, finally, by Pallas herself; when, meeting

    Selections From the Works of John Ruskin

  • "Sadda'l-Aktár," a term picturesque enough to be preserved in English.

    Arabian nights. English

  • But in picturesque Ithaca, NY, where Cornell is located, about six hours from Manhattan, he is best remembered for Cornell Chicken, and there is nothing odd or artificial about his recipe.

    Meathead Goldwyn: Crispy Cornell Chicken: An Upstate New York Classic

  • This year the Summer School will be hosted at the University of Vermont in picturesque, mountainous Burlington, Vermont, USA, from June 21 – July 9, 2010.

    Wolfram Blog : Explore the Frontiers of Science: NKS Summer School 2010

  • Over at ScreenGrab, Bryan Whitefield wishes he could go to the "Futuro Presente Festival in picturesque Rovereto, along the Northeast coast of Italy, where they will be honoring legendary filmmaker Bernardo Bertolucci."

    GreenCine Daily: Weekend fests and events.

  • The town is just a couple of miles from where Urquhart Castle stands in picturesque ruins beside the loch.

    September 2006

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