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painting, n.

Forms:  ME peinting, ME peintinge, ME peintunge, ME peyndynge, ME peynting, ME poyntynge, ME–15 paintyng, ME–15 payntyng, ME–15 payntynge, ME–15 peyntyng, ME–15 peyntynge, 15 painteng, 15 panttyng, 15 paynting, 15 pentteng, 15– painting; Scottish pre-17 paintin, pre-17 pantene, pre-17 pantin, pre-17 panting, pre-17 panttyn, pre-17 pantyne, pre-17 payinting, pre-17 paynteyn, pre-17 paynting, pre-17 paynttyne, pre-17 payntyng, pre-17 payntynge, pre-17 pentin, pre-17 penting, pre-17 peynting, pre-17 pynteing, pre-17 pynting, pre-17 17– painting. (Show Less)
Frequency (in current use): 
Origin: Probably a borrowing from French, combined with English elements; modelled on a French lexical item. Etymons: French peinture  , -ing suffix1, paint v.1
Etymology: In early Middle English, probably < Old French peinture painture n., with suffix substitution (see -ing suffix1); compare slightly later paint v.1   and discussion at that entry. In later use probably independently < paint v.1 + -ing suffix1, partly after Middle French peinture painture n.

 a. Painted matter; that which is painted. In later use esp. as a count noun: a representation on a surface executed in paint or colours; a painted picture or likeness.In quot. c1230 figurative.

?c1225  (?a1200)    Ancrene Riwle (Cleo. C.vi) (1972) 178   To childene ha beoð þet fleoð an peintinge [c1230 Corpus Cambr. peinture; a1250 Titus adepeinture] þe þuncheð ham grisliche & grureful to bihalden.
c1230  (?a1200)    Ancrene Riwle (Corpus Cambr.) (1962) 124   Wa & wunne i þis world al nis bute peintunge [a1250 Titus peintinge; a1250 Nero ase apeinture].
a1250  (?a1200)    Ancrene Riwle (Nero) (1952) 179   Ine schelde beoð þreo þinges: þet treo and þet leðer & þe peintunge [c1230 Corpus Cambr. litunge].
a1382   Bible (Wycliffite, E.V.) (Bodl. 959) Wisd. xv. 4   Not in to error in ladde vs þe out thenking of þe euele craft of men ne þe shadewe of peynting [a1425 L.V. peynture; L. picturæ].
c1400   Wyclif Sel. Eng. Wks. (1871) III. 455   Alle men worschypynge..þoo ymages, or ony peyntyngus, synnen and done ydolatrie.
?c1425   tr. Guy de Chauliac Grande Chirurgie (Paris) (1971) 29   Henry..wolde determyne anothomye wiþ 13 peyntinges [?a1425 N.Y. Acad. Med. picturez; ?a1425 Hunterian ymages depeynted; L. picturis].
?c1475   Catholicon Anglicum (BL Add. 15562) f. 91v   Payntynge, pictura, emblema.
1547   King Edward VI Iniunccions §28   Also, that they shall take awaie, vtterly extincte, and destroye, all shrines,..candelstickes, tryndilles or rolles of waxe, pictures, paintynges [etc.].
?1573   H. Cheke tr. F. Negri Freewyl v. v. 184   God doth strayghtly forbyd vs to make any grauen images, payntynges, or other lykenesses of any creature, to geue honour and seruice vnto them.
1598   Shakespeare Love's Labour's Lost iii. i. 19   With..your handes in your pocket like a man after the olde painting .  
1639   N. N. tr. J. Du Bosc Compl. Woman i. 10   To refresh the eyes with their paintings.
1689   London Gaz. No. 2511/4   A Collection of Paintings and fine Limnings by the best Masters.
1724   J. Henley et al. tr. Pliny the Younger Epist. & Panegyrick I. v. vi. 224   There is a painting of Branches, and of Birds..that equals the Beauty of the Marble.
1766   J. Entick Surv. London in New Hist. London IV. 449   The pavillions or alcoves are ornamented with paintings.
1809   W. Blake Descr. Catal. 62   The distinction made between a Painting and a Drawing.
1876   H. James Roderick Hudson iii. 91   Amid dropped curtains and the scattered gleam of firelight upon polished carvings and mellow paintings.
1918   W. Cather My Ántonia i. xi. 92   We had files of those..magazines which used to publish colored lithographs of popular paintings.
1972   Modelworld Oct. 81/1   When all the painting of this stage is completely dry, the..serials can be applied.
2002   Adrenalin No. 13. 135/2   The ceiling is like a pointillist painting composed of a thousand pieces of Blu Tack.

?c1225—2002(Hide quotations)


 b. The representing of a subject on a surface by the application of paint or colours; the art of making such representations; (in extended use) the practice of applying paint to a canvas, etc., for any artistic purpose.

a1387   J. Trevisa tr. R. Higden Polychron. (St. John's Cambr.) (1869) II. 147 (MED)   Þei beeþ i-cleped Pictes by cause of peyntynge of woundes þat beeþ i-sene on hire bodies.
a1398   J. Trevisa tr. Bartholomaeus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum (BL Add.) f. 50   Somtyme, spekinge of a writere oþer of a peyntour, me seiþ þese han a good hond, þat is to menynge, good craft of writynge oþir good lecture of poyntynge.
c1425   Edward, Duke of York Master of Game (Vesp. B.xii) (1904) 22 (MED)   His heed may not be wel deuysed Wiþout paintyng [Fr. paindre].
▸ 1440   Promptorium Parvulorum (Harl. 221) 390   Peyntynge, or portrature, pictura.
1531   T. Elyot Bk. named Gouernour I. viii. sig. Cviiiv   He shulde be..enstructed in painting or keruinge.
1558   Treas. Acc. in W. Lauder Tractate (1864) Pref. 8   For paynting of the vii Planetis, of the kart, with the rest of the convoy xvi li.
1598   R. Haydocke tr. G. P. Lomazzo Tracte Artes Paintinge i. 7   Painting, Carving and Plasticke are all but one and the same arte.
1638   F. Junius Painting of Ancients 12   The facultie of Painters..knoweth no end in painting.
1690   J. Locke Ess. Humane Understanding ii. ix. 62   The Idea we receive..is only a Plain variously colour'd, as is evident in Painting.
1714   Boston News-let. 12 Apr. 2/2   A Boarding School, where will be carefully Taught..Filigrew, Painting upon Glass, Writing, Arithmetick, and Singing Psalm Tunes.
1770   J. Reynolds Wks. (1855) 329   There are excellencies in the art of painting beyond what is commonly called the imitation of Nature.
1841   R. W. Emerson Ess. 1st Ser. (Boston ed.) xii. 294   Painting and sculpture are gymnastics of the eye.
1874   Internat. Rev. Mar. 204   The painting of the picture was nothing more than the clean and orderly setting forth of what already existed.
1900   E. Singleton Great Pictures 6   He is before all things a poetical painter, blending the charm of story and sentiment, the medium of the art of poetry, with the charm of line and colour, the medium of abstract painting.
1949   F. Swinnerton Doctor's Wife comes to Stay 163   I do a bit of painting, myself; enough to take the boys in art.
1988   Classical Q. New Ser. 38 113   The legend..is known to have been a theme of sculpture, painting, and lyric in the fifth century.

a1387—1988(Hide quotations)


 c. Computing. The creation of graphics or images in electronic form in a manner analogous to painting (sense 1b), as by the use of a paint program (paint program n. at paint n. Compounds 2).

1972   N.Y. Times 5 Dec. 94/6   Another device named ‘Epic-II’, which is an experimental system for electronic painting.
1995   Desktop Publishers Jrnl. July 32/1   Produced by the same people..who created the inexpensive Matisse painting software.

1972—1995(Hide quotations)


 a. The action of applying a coat of paint to a surface; the action of colouring or staining something; (occasionally) an instance of this. Also figurative.

1351–2   in Antiquary (1914) 50 386 (MED)   For arnement, rosyn, and geet for the painting of the glass.
1465   in Manners & Househ. Expenses Eng. (1841) 290   Paid to Crystyne for powderenge and peyntynge of my masteres sheldes and his sadylle, x s.
1497   in M. Oppenheim Naval Accts. & Inventories Henry VII (1896) 237   Workyng abought the payntyng of the seid ship.
1507   in J. B. Paul Accts. Treasurer Scotl. (1902) IV. 33   For..scarlet to the prince hurle stule;..Item, for paynting of the rollis of it.
1579   W. Wilkinson Confut. Familye of Loue f. 48   These his vayne payntynges of his margent, shall hereafter make his cause more odious.
1602   E. Hayes in J. Brereton Briefe Relation Discouerie Virginia 16   The Saluages weare faire colours in some of their attire, whereby we hope to find rich dies and colours for painting.
1661   G. Rust Let. conc. Origen in Phœnix (1721) I. 42   If the House be ruinous..all the external Painting and Pargetting imaginable..can neither secure the Inhabitants from its Fall.
1715   R. South 12 Serm. IV. 46   Like the Plaistering of Marble, or the Painting of Gold.
1751   E. Haywood Hist. Betsy Thoughtless III. iii. 33   He has bespoke the finest coach, and the genteelest chariot you ever saw,—all in a new taste, and perfectly French;—they are quite finished, all but the painting.
1813   J. Austen Let. 25 Sept. (1952) 337   No. 10 is made very comfortable with cleaning, and Painting & the Sloane St furniture.
1861   Dickens Great Expectations II. vii. 107   Rather a stately house of its kind, but dolefully in want of painting.
1925   Woman's World (Chicago) Apr. 47/3 (caption)    The painting of residential property may readily be arranged on a convenient payment basis.
1949   P. H. Buck Coming of Maori (1950) ii. xiii. 319   The decorative painting of woodwork did not advance very far in Polynesia.
1988   Which? Nov. 518/1 (heading)    Our tips to make painting less of a chore.

1351–2—1988(Hide quotations)


 b. The colouring of the face or body for cosmetic purposes; (occasionally) an instance of this. Now rare except as an extended use of sense 2a.face-painting: see face n. Compounds 2.

▸ 1435   R. Misyn tr. R. Rolle Fire of Love 95 (MED)   Of qwhome sum þer fowles to hyde or Þer bewte þa study to increse with payntynge of begillynge avotre þer faces þa color & qwhittyn.
1484   Caxton tr. G. de la Tour-Landry Bk. Knight of Tower (1971) liv. 78   The peyntynge of her face..was cause and occasion of suche horryble countrefeture.
1577   R. Holinshed Hist. Eng. 79/1 in Chron. I   Suche paynting of their bodyes..they estemed a great brauerie.
1594   T. Bowes tr. P. de la Primaudaye French Acad. II. 77   In all their paintings and prankings they..lift vp themselues against nature.
1612   J. Smith Map of Virginia 21   Many other formes of paintings they use, but he is the most gallant that is the most monstrous to behould.
1650   T. Fuller Pisgah-sight of Palestine iv. vi. 116   Painting was practised by Harlots, adulterated complexions well agreeing with adulterous conditions.
a1704   T. Browne Wks. (1715) IV. 13   Your Youth flies away on the Back of swift Hours, Which no praying, no painting, no sighing restores.
1768   O. Goldsmith Good Natur'd Man iv. 53   I presum'd to reprove you for painting: but your warmer blushes soon convinc'd the company, that the colouring was all from nature.
1880   ‘Ouida’ Moths III. xxi. 17   Vera would be a sublime wax doll..if she rouged... It is all cant to be against painting.
1952   H. Jenkins Edward Benlowes xviii. 209   At this date, according also to Evelyn, the painting of the face was ‘a most ignominious thing and us'd only by prostitutes.’

1435—1952(Hide quotations)


 c. Computing. The filling of (part of) a display screen with a particular colour.

1984   InfoWorld (Nexis) 21 May 74   You can select color masks for painting that will allow you to replace all of a certain color in a design without touching any other color.
1995   NetGuide Sept. 42/1   There's good use of graphics..and of Netscape 1.1 features like full-screen painting.

1984—1995(Hide quotations)


 3. The result of applying paint; the fact or quality of being painted; colouring; pictorial decoration. Also: the relative condition of something as regards paint (frequently with modifying adjective).

c1390   W. Hilton Mixed Life (Vernon) in C. Horstmann Yorkshire Writers (1895) I. 273 (MED)   He [sc. Christ] wol cun þe more þonk for meke wasschyng of his feet..þen for al þe preciouse peyntyng & araying þat þou can make aboute his hed.
a1450   St. Edith (Faust.) (1883) 1780 (MED)   Þre lytulle ȝates of entrynge..weron set on crosse wyse, wt þre crosses also of ryȝt gode peyndynge.
a1500  (?a1450)    Gesta Romanorum (Harl. 7333) (1879) 264   He ordeined also vij craftes abowte it y-peynt, in the entent þat the childe myȝt..beholde the craftis, and the Riall payntynge yn hem.
1593   J. Raine Descr. Anc. Monuments Church of Durham (1842) 29   The fairness of the wall, the staitlynes of the pictures and the lyvelyhoode of the paynting.
1601   B. Jonson Fountaine of Selfe-love i. iv. sig. C2v   To praise the cleanesse of the streete wherein he dwelt, or the prouident painting of his posts.
a1616   Shakespeare Timon of Athens (1623) i. i. 159   A peece of Painting, which I do beseech Your Lordship to accept.  
1760–1   in R. Willis & J. W. Clark Archit. Hist. Univ. Cambr. (1886) II. 496   Repairing the painting of the room.
1782   J. H. St. J. de Crèvecoeur Lett. from Amer. Farmer xi. 254   He brought this piece of painting over with him.
1817   J. Evans Excursion to Windsor 22   A rich piece of painting in enamel.
a1859   Macaulay Hist. Eng. (1861) V. xxiii. 112   Gazers who admired the painting and gilding of his Excellency's carriages.
1893   ‘O. Thanet’ Stories Western Town 3   They [sc. the houses] were in good painting and repair.
1927   R. H. Wilenski Mod. Movement in Art 147   Imitations of..Post-Cubist art are not confined to actual works of painting.
1977   S. Kostof Architect 25   A good deal of work had to be done on the building itself: the fluting of the columns, for example, the painting of the sculptural decoration, and the finish of the ceiling.
1998   Washington Times (Nexis) 16 July c8   She picks up another piece of painting, a watercolor of a woman who looks a bit like a young Betty Ford.

c1390—1998(Hide quotations)


 4. figurative. Chiefly literary. Depiction in words, representation in vivid language; (occasionally) an instance of this. In later use frequently with explicit allusion to the literal sense.See also word painting n.

a1400   Ancrene Riwle (Pepys) (1976) ) 109   Þenche on þine synnes, on þe ioyes of heuene..What he haþ done for þe, how vnkynde þou haste ben aȝeins hym; Vche one of þise wolde haue a longe poyntynge.
c1425   Lydgate Troyyes Bk. (Augustus A.iv) ii. 194 (MED)   Of peyntyng I haue noon excellence With sondry hewes noble.
c1450   Speculum Christiani (Harl. 6580) (1933) 230 (MED)   Al pompe and makynge or peyntynge of wordes and ydel argumentes of worldly philosophy be turnede euyn into noght.
?1615   G. Chapman tr. Homer Odysses (new ed.) xix. 295   Thus, many tales Vlysses told his wife, At most, but painting; yet most like the life.
1679   Dryden Troilus & Cressida Pref. sig. b3   The painting of it is so lively, and the words so moving.
1771   T. Jefferson Let. 3 Aug. in Papers (1950) I. 77   We never reflect whether the story we read be truth or fiction. If the painting be lively, and a tolerable picture of nature, we are thrown into a reverie.
1791   T. Paine Rights of Man i. 21   The tragic paintings by which Mr Burke has outraged his own imagination.
1845   A. Alison in Blackwood's Mag. Sept. 354   James..is yet so enamoured of description, and so conscious of his powers in that respect, that he in general overlays his writings with painting to the eye.
a1877   W. Bagehot Lit. Stud. (1879) 207   Few things in literary painting are more wonderful.
1986   N.Y. Times (Nexis) 30 Nov. vii. 32/3   Ronald Blythe's specialty is painting with words; his subject is the English landscape, with figures.

a1400—1986(Hide quotations)


5. In singular and plural. Pigment, paint; cosmetics. Obsolete.

a1425   J. Trevisa tr. Bartholomaeus Anglicus De Proprietatibus Rerum (Pierpont Morgan) f. 210v   Glas..is amonge stones as a foule [L. stultus] amonge men, for it fongeþ all maner of colour & [a1398 BL Add. maner colour of] peyntynge [L. omnem tincturam].
a1500   in J. Evans & M. S. Serjeantson Eng. Mediaeval Lapidaries (1933) 114 (MED)   Glas..is amonge stones as a fowle is amonge men, for it receyueþ al maner of colors & peyntynges.
1591   R. Percyvall Bibliotheca Hispanica Dict. at Mudas   Painting for womens faces, Fucus.
1594   T. Lodge & R. Greene Looking Glasse sig. Cv   The costly paintings fetcht fro curious Tyre, Haue mended in my face what nature mist.
1608   E. Topsell Hist. Serpents 144   Adulterated with Meale, Chalke, white-earth, or painting.
1650   J. Bulwer Anthropometamorphosis 158   Thou defacest the features of God, if thou cover thy Face with painting.
1675   Char. Town Misse 7   The rest of her retinue consists of her She-Secretary, that keeps the Box of her Teeth, her Hair, and her Painting.
1762   D. Garrick Cymbeline iii. vii. 46   Some Jay of Italy, Whose Feathers were her painting, hath betrayed him.

a1425—1762(Hide quotations)




  painting-apron   n.

1620   tr. Boccaccio Decameron II. viii. iii. f. 63   He tooke off his large painting Apron, which he fastened with his girdle in the manner of a sacke.
1886   Gentleman's Mag. Apr. 322   I always found her bending over her easel, a large painting-apron covering her shabby dress.
1916   W. D. Howells Daughter of Storage 191   She had her ugly painting-apron still on, and her thumb through the hole in her palette.

1620—1916(Hide quotations)


  painting brush   n.

1737   C. Leadbetter Mech. Dialling xxvii. 193   Painting Brushes of several Sizes.
1855   Thackeray Newcomes II. x. 100   A great palette, and a sheaf of painting-brushes.
1990   Newsday (N.Y.) (Nexis) 22 Feb. 13   You can prevent drops from landing on your head by simply sticking the painting brush through the middle of a paper plate and securing with scotch tape.

1737—1990(Hide quotations)


  painting-cleaner   n.

1852   Thackeray Henry Esmond i   As one has seen unskilful painting-cleaners do.

1852—1852(Hide quotations)


painting colour   n. Obsolete

1559   P. Morwyng tr. C. Gesner Treasure of Euonymus 236   After the same maner that oyl of Spik and oyl of Cloues is wont to be made of them yt make painting colours.
1735   Dict. Polygraph. at Body   To bear a body, a term us'd of painting colours.
1899   Times 10 Jan. 14/1 (advt.)    Gesellschaft der Chemischen and Lackfabrik Charles Bowet..recommend..Paper-hanging Colours, Varnish, Oil Lakes, Enamel and Painting Colours, Lakes for Leather.

1559—1899(Hide quotations)


  painting machine   n.

1850   Sci. Amer. 14 Dec. 99/3   The painting of such a vast quantity of sash bars has..been provided for by means of a ‘painting machine’.
1966   ‘H. MacDiarmid’ Company I've Kept ii. 59   A painting-machine like Jean Tinguely's to produce unexpected designs.
2002   Boston Globe (Nexis) 27 June 8   Nearby is a large steel grid, an electric painting machine he built in his Medford studio.

1850—2002(Hide quotations)


  painting room   n.

1732   G. Vertue Note-bks. (1936) IV. 29   He showd them the way up stairs to his painting room.
1803   B. Greatheed Jrnl. 16 Jan. (1953) ii. 27   We now went to Davids painting room in the Louvre.
1952   W. Plomer Museum Pieces ix. 68   Since my visit to the painting room he had almost completely hidden from me the feelings which seemed to have driven him to make a pass at me.

1732—1952(Hide quotations)


  painting stone   n.

1837   M. M. Sherwood Henry Milner I. xiii. 57   Bits of broken plates, which Henry used as pallets and painting-stones.
2000   Albuquerque (New Mexico) Jrnl. (Nexis) 17 Aug. 24   She pours the pigment into a painting stone and rubs it with black hematite until a proper consistency is reached.

1837—2000(Hide quotations)


  painting cloth   n.  (a) Obsolete. rare = painted cloth n.;  (b) a piece of cloth designed or prepared for an artist to paint on;  (c) a large piece of cloth used as a protective covering for furniture, etc., while a room is being painted.

1668   F. Kirkman Eng. Rogue II. xii. sig. H8v   Old painting Cloath..Dives in the flames..the Prodigal on Horse-back.
1992   Los Angeles Times (Nexis) 11 Nov. f2/2   It cleverly covers the second act furniture with a painting cloth (an added line explains that Gould's office is being painted).
1999   China Daily 10 Dec. 9   On canvas, painting cloth, and other materials, Viallat presents to viewers ever-changing lines, symbols, and colours.
2000   Calgary (Alberta) Sun (Nexis) 20 Feb. co31   Protective Products International..goes beyond offering common painting cloths with items like hardy protective skins for tubs.
2002   Advertiser (Adelaide) (Nexis) 31 Aug. 41   Fabric painting, pre-shaded painting cloth.

1668—2002(Hide quotations)


  painting root   n. British (now rare) the plant corn gromwell, Lithospermum arvense, the root of which was formerly used to produce a red colouring matter.

1796   W. Withering Arrangem. Brit. Plants (ed. 3) II. 226   Lithospermum arvense... Corn Gromwell. Bastard Alkanet... Painting Root... [note The bark of the root tinges wax and oil of a beautiful red, similar to that which is obtained from the root of the foreign Alkanet that is kept in the shops.]
1919   Bot. Exchange Club 5 511   Lithospermum arvense L. Swalcliffe Grange, Oxon.,..in cornfields... Sent to show the red root which apparently gives occasion for the colloquial name ‘Painting root’.

1796—1919(Hide quotations)