Etymology
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easel (n.)

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 (compare sawhorse, French chevalet, Italian cavalletto).

updated on July 28, 2014

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Definitions of easel from WordNet

easel (n.)
an upright tripod for displaying something (usually an artist's canvas);
From wordnet.princeton.edu, not affiliated with etymonline.