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[ee-zuh l] /ˈi zəl/
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.
Origin of easel
1625-35; < Dutch ezel ass, easel (cognate with German Esel, Old English esel ass) < Vulgar Latin *asilus, for Latin asellus, diminutive of asinus ass1
Related forms
easeled, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for easel
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • At this moment he noticed at some distance the portrait of Arabian on its easel, and he put up his eyeglasses.

    December Love Robert Hichens
  • She left the easel in disgust and refused to touch it again for a week.

    Chip, of the Flying U B. M. Bower
  • In yonder corner, for instance, stands an easel, the picture upon which is constantly changed.

    The Arena Various
  • Her easel was there, and her half-rubbed out drawing—No, that was not her drawing.

  • At last he went to his easel, and sat down with a long-drawn sigh as if of relief.

British Dictionary definitions for easel


a frame, usually in the form of an upright tripod, used for supporting or displaying an artist's canvas, blackboard, etc
Word Origin
C17: from Dutch ezel ass1; related to Gothic asilus, German Esel, Latin asinus ass
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 easel

1590s, from Dutch ezel "easel," originally "ass," from Middle Dutch esel, from Latin asinus "ass" (see ass (n.1)); the comparison being of loading a burden on a donkey and propping up a painting or canvas on a wooden stand (cf. sawhorse).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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