a stand or frame for supporting or displaying at an angle an artist's canvas, a blackboard, a china plate, etc.
Also called masking frame. Photography. a frame, often with adjustable masks, used to hold photographic paper flat and control borders when printing enlargements.

1625–35; < Dutch ezel ass, easel (cognate with German Esel, Old English esel ass) < Vulgar Latin *asilus, for Latin asellus, diminutive of asinus ass1

easeled, adjective
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World English Dictionary
easel (ˈiːzəl)
a frame, usually in the form of an upright tripod, used for supporting or displaying an artist's canvas, blackboard, etc
[C17: from Dutch ezel ass1; related to Gothic asilus, German Esel, Latin asinus ass]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

1590s, from Du. ezel "easel," originally "ass," from M.Du. esel, from L. asinus "ass" (see ass (1)); the comparison being of loading a burden on a donkey and propping up a painting or canvas on a wooden stand.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Example sentences
It sat on his easel by the window overlooking the garden.
Automatically adjusts for daylight saving time and features an easel display
  and backlight for easy nighttime viewing.
But soon he was strapping paintbrushes to his wrists, and using a motorized
  easel to lift and turn his canvases.
Can have a larger continuous surface area than easel pad.
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