Picaresque vs. Picturesque

by Heather

Lexical Vexations

picaresque adj. having roguish qualities; a type of fiction featuring the exploits of a roguish character.

picturesque adj. beautiful, as pleasing as a painted image, idyllic.

Words in the Wild: The picturesque park around the corner from Veronika’s house had been an oasis of calm for her…until the day those picaresque kids arrived and destroyed every sapling they found there.

Picaresque comes from the Spanish picaro meaning rascal. Add the suffix -esque meaning like and you have picaresque or rascal-like.

Picturesque came to English from the French pittoresque, which means of or relating to painting. Picturesque means painting-like.

Still vexed? You can find a complete list of the Word Blog’s lexical vexations here.


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