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verb con·trast \kən-ˈtrast, ˈkän-ˌ\

Simple Definition of contrast

  • : to be different especially in a way that is very obvious

  • : to compare (two people or things) to show how they are different

Full Definition of contrast

  1. transitive verb
  2. :  to set off in contrast :  compare or appraise in respect to differences <contrast European and American manners> —often used with to or with <contrasting her with other women — Victoria Sackville-West>

  3. intransitive verb
  4. :  to form a contrast

con·trast·able play \-ˈtras-tə-bəl, -ˌtras-\ adjective
con·trast·ing·ly play \-tiŋ-lē\ adverb

Examples of contrast

  1. Her black dress and the white background contrast sharply.

  2. We compared and contrasted the two characters of the story.

Origin of contrast

French contraster, from Middle French, to oppose, resist, alteration of contrester, from Vulgar Latin *contrastare, from Latin contra- + stare to stand — more at stand

First Known Use: 1646

Synonym Discussion of contrast

compare, contrast, collate mean to set side by side in order to show differences and likenesses. compare implies an aim of showing relative values or excellences by bringing out characteristic qualities whether similar or divergent <compared the convention facilities of the two cities>. contrast implies an emphasis on differences <contrasted the computerized system with the old filing cards>. collate implies minute and critical inspection in order to note points of agreement or divergence <data from districts around the country will be collated>.



noun con·trast \ˈkän-ˌtrast\

Simple Definition of contrast

  • : something that is different from another thing

  • : a difference between people or things that are being compared

  • : the act of comparing people or things to show the differences between them

Full Definition of contrast

  1. 1 a :  juxtaposition of dissimilar elements (as color, tone, or emotion) in a work of art b :  degree of difference between the lightest and darkest parts of a picture

  2. 2 a :  the difference or degree of difference between things having similar or comparable natures <the contrast between the two forms of government> b :  comparison of similar objects to set off their dissimilar qualities :  the state of being so compared <the enforced simplicity in this diary … is in contrast to the intensity of his former life — Times Literary Supplement>

  3. 3 :  a person or thing that exhibits differences when compared with another

Examples of contrast

  1. I observed an interesting contrast in the teaching styles of the two women.

  2. Careful contrast of the twins shows some differences.

  3. In contrast to last year's profits, the company is not doing very well.

  4. The queen's wit and humor made the prince seem dull by contrast.

  5. They spent millions of dollars on advertising. By way of contrast, our small company spent under 5,000 dollars.


First Known Use of contrast


Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up contrast? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


February 13, 2016

a trying or distressing experience

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