Pentimento vs pimento or pimiento

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Pentimento and pimento or pimiento are words that are close in spelling and pronunciation and are often confused. We will examine the definitions of pentimento and pimento or pimiento, the etymology of these words, and some examples of their use in sentences.

A pentimento is a trace of a the previous work done on a painting, the drawn lines and painted elements that the artist has corrected by painting over them. The facets of a pentimento were never meant to be seen, they are the early ideas that the artist improved upon in his finished product. The word pentimento came into use in the 1820s and is derived from the Italian word pentire, which means to repent. The plural of pentimento is pentimeni. Pentimenti may be found through X-rays or infrared photography, or simply because the final coat of pigment in a painting has changed color or worn away. Lillian Hellman’s famous memoir, published in 1973, was Pentimento: A Book of Portraits.

Pimento and pimiento are two spellings of the same word that mean a certain variety of sweet red pepper, usually pickled. A pimento or pimiento is often stuffed into a green olive, a delicacy that first appeared in France in the 1700s. The word pimento or pimiento is derived from the Spanish word pimienta, which means allspice or pepper. The plural forms are pimentos and pimientos.


Hauck will then put on another layer and scrape that off, so you get the pentimento — the visible trace of earlier painting beneath. (Martha’s Vineyard Times)

Layers of roughly built-up geometric shapes emphasize the paintings’ pentimento, which pokes through from beneath the surface, while radiant light was perhaps inspired by a visit to North Africa. (The Los Angeles Times)

Their take on the classic combination of cheeses, mayo and pimentos comes to the table hot, creamy and ready to slather on warm flatbread and share with friends. (The St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

If you’ve never had pimento cheese, it’s a cheesy Southern concoction made of sharp cheese, mayo or other creamy dressing and pimentos. (The Allentown Morning Call)

Food offerings include Southern-inspired snacks such as spicy boiled peanuts, sharp cheddar and jack pimiento cheese dip and Coca-Cola BBQ pork spare ribs. (The Atlanta Journal Constitution)

Canned spray cheese, beef jerky, and pimiento-stuffed olives are three items Bloomberg chose to highlight in reporting on changes proposed by the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) to SNAP requirements for retailers. (Food and Wine Magazine)