Dictionary

1silhouette

noun sil·hou·ette \ˌsi-lə-ˈwet\

: a dark shape in front of a light background

: a picture of something showing it as a dark shape on a light background; especially : such a picture showing a person's face from the side

: the shape or outline of something

Full Definition of SILHOUETTE

1
:  a likeness cut from dark material and mounted on a light ground or one sketched in outline and solidly colored in
2
:  the outline of a body viewed as circumscribing a mass <the silhouette of a bird>
ADVERTISEMENT

Examples of SILHOUETTE

  1. the silhouettes of buildings against the sky
  2. The buildings appeared in silhouette against the sky.
  3. My piano teacher has a framed silhouette of Mozart on her wall.
  4. a portrait of my mother done in silhouette
  5. He admired the sports car's sleek silhouette.

Origin of SILHOUETTE

French, from Étienne de Silhouette †1767 French controller general of finances; perhaps from his ephemeral tenure
First Known Use: 1783

Synonym Discussion of SILHOUETTE

outline, contour, profile, silhouette mean the line that bounds and gives form to something. outline applies to a line marking the outer limits or edges of a body or mass <traced the outline of his hand>. contour stresses the quality of an outline or a bounding surface as being smooth, jagged, curving, or sharply angled <a car with flowing contours>. profile suggests a varied and sharply defined outline against a lighter background <a portrait of her face in profile>. silhouette suggests a shape especially of a head or figure with all detail blacked out in shadow leaving only the outline clearly defined <photograph in silhouette against a bright sky>.

Other Fine Arts Terms

Gothic, baroque, bas-relief, limn, oeuvre, pastiche, rococo, sfumato

2silhouette

transitive verb

: to make (someone or something) appear as a dark shape in front of a light background

silhouett·edsilhouett·ing

Full Definition of SILHOUETTE

:  to represent by a silhouette; also :  to project on a background like a silhouette
sil·hou·et·tist \-ˈwe-tist\ noun

Examples of SILHOUETTE

  1. <in the photograph the majestic mountain is strikingly silhouetted against the setting sun>

First Known Use of SILHOUETTE

1876

Other Fine Arts Terms

Gothic, baroque, bas-relief, limn, oeuvre, pastiche, rococo, sfumato
SILHOUETTED Defined for Kids

1silhouette

noun sil·hou·ette \ˌsi-lə-ˈwet\

Definition of SILHOUETTE for Kids

1
:  1outline 1 <In the dim light, their faces were just silhouettes.>
2
:  a drawing, picture, or portrait of the outline of a person or object filled in with a solid usually black color

Word History of SILHOUETTE

A man named Étienne de Silhouette was once in charge of the finances of France. He was a miser who did not like to spend his money or the country's money. According to one story he was too cheap to buy paintings for the walls of his mansion, and so he made simple outline drawings to hang in place of paintings. In French and in English silhouette still means an outline drawing.

2silhouette

verb
sil·hou·ett·edsil·hou·ett·ing

Definition of SILHOUETTE for Kids

:  to represent by an outline :  show against a light background <An airplane was silhouetted against the sky.>

Browse

Next Word in the Dictionary: silicaPrevious Word in the Dictionary: silexiteAll Words Near: silhouette
How to use a word that (literally) drives some people nuts.
Test your vocab with our fun, fast game
Ailurophobia, and 9 other unusual fears