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[bah-ri-leef, bas-; bah-ri-leef, bas-] /ˌbɑ rɪˈlif, ˌbæs-; ˈbɑ rɪˌlif, ˈbæs-/
relief sculpture in which the figures project slightly from the background.
Also called low relief.
1660-70; < French, on the model of Italian bassorilievo. Cf. basso-relievo, base2, relief Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for bas relief
  • The stone featured a sunken shield in which the inscription appeared in bas relief.
  • The tree has been depicted in bas relief, on monuments, and on coins.
  • Elements are often large and outstanding with the entire rock surface decorated, occasionally carved in bas relief.
British Dictionary definitions for bas relief


/ˌbɑːrɪˈliːf; ˌbæs-; ˈbɑːrɪˌliːf; ˈbæs-/
sculpture in low relief, in which the forms project slightly from the background but no part is completely detached from it Also called (Italian) basso rilievo
Word Origin
C17: from French, from Italian basso rilievo low relief; see base², relief
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
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Word Origin and History for bas relief



1660s, from French bas-relief, a loan-translation of Italian basso-rilievo "low relief, raised work."

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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bas relief in Culture
bas-relief [(bah ruh-leef)]

A kind of carving or sculpture in which the figures are raised a few inches from a flat background to give a three-dimensional effect. The term is French for “low relief.”

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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