con·​tour | \ ˈkän-ˌtu̇r How to pronounce contour (audio) \

Definition of contour

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : an outline especially of a curving or irregular figure : shape the sleek contours of the car The map shows the contour of the coastline. also : the line representing this outline
2 : the general form or structure of something : characteristic often used in plural the contours of a melody… the contours of political and social theories.— James G. Paradis
3 : a usually meaningful change in intonation in speech



Definition of contour (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : following contour lines or forming furrows or ridges along them contour flooding contour farming
2 : made to fit the contour of something a contour couch contour sheets


contoured; contouring; contours

Definition of contour (Entry 3 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to shape the contour of
b : to shape so as to fit contours
2 : to construct (something, such as a road) in conformity to a contour

Synonyms for contour

Synonyms: Noun

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Choose the Right Synonym for contour


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

Examples of contour in a Sentence

Noun He loved the sleek contours of the car. The map showed the contour of the coastline.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun It's made with a specific contour that offers the perfect combination of orthopedic support and plushness. Nicol Natale,, 7 May 2022 To apply bronzer, use a tapered contour brush and a powder formula that's not too warm or red-toned like Dedivanovic's Makeup by Mario Soft Sculpt Bronzer. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, 19 Nov. 2021 Using apparel industry techniques and materials, Under Armour is playing with contour and geometry to surround the heel for a secure and comfortable hold. Jonathan Beverly, Outside Online, 26 June 2020 In 1994, the Tokyo brand Ikegami developed dual skin contour, which could balance the color of two different skin tones in a frame. Aditi Shrikant, NBC News, 14 July 2022 The shape and contour of the AirPods and the Apple Watch are also protected by design patents. Wen Xie, Forbes, 17 June 2022 Designed for foundation, cream contour, blush, and powder, this brush is a universal tool to keep in your glam kit. Madison Yauger,, 16 May 2022 This map is two acres in extent, and shows every contour, every town and every stream or lake in Guatemala and the neighboring territory of British Honduras. Mark Fischetti, Scientific American, 14 May 2022 First released in 2016, the groundbreaking mod pack offered players 18 new skin tones (and undertones), two contour palettes, and melanin-friendly makeup options. Ineye Komonibo,, 23 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Several of the body-positive lingerie label’s bestselling styles — including its Leakproof underwear and WingWoman contour bra — will be available in five different shades. Truc Nguyen,, 20 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb For a long time, we were left with warm, orangey colors to contour with. ELLE, 23 June 2022 So Greg built a frame stiff enough to transfer the load from shoulder straps to a hip belt like an external frame pack, but flexible enough to contour to the body and flex with the hips and torso while climbing. Andrew Freeman, Outside Online, 21 May 2012 The sandals' secret to their premium arch support lies in their lightweight EVA soles, which flex and contour to the unique shape of your feet. Emily Belfiore, Travel + Leisure, 7 May 2022 Pencils to fill in my recovering '90s eyebrows, powders to contour my face for Zooms, creams to brighten spots. Johnson Lui, Allure, 24 May 2022 The Elite Hybrid features five targeted zones with different firmness levels to contour to your body, providing extra support where your body needs it. Grace Wu, Good Housekeeping, 20 May 2022 Reid prefers not to contour, instead creating a sculpted wash of color with a Westman Atelier blush and Huda Beauty bronzer. Kiana Murden, Vogue, 23 Mar. 2022 What it's made of: The all-foam model has layers with varying firmness levels throughout, but the top layer is softest to help contour to the shape of your body. Lexie Sachs, Good Housekeeping, 27 Apr. 2022 Whereas a mattress with an innerspring layer is built for overall firmness and support, a pocket coil mattress will contour to your body's shape in order to provide further pressure relief. Sara Coughlin, SELF, 14 Mar. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contour.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of contour


1662, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1844, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1871, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for contour


French, from Italian contorno, from contornare to round off, from Medieval Latin, to turn around, from Latin com- + tornare to turn on a lathe — more at turn entry 1

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Time Traveler for contour

Time Traveler

The first known use of contour was in 1662

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Dictionary Entries Near contour



contour chair

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Last Updated

17 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Contour.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for contour


con·​tour | \ ˈkän-ˌtu̇r How to pronounce contour (audio) \

Kids Definition of contour

: the outline of a figure, body, or surface the contour of the coastline


con·​tour | \ ˈkän-ˌtu̇(ə)r How to pronounce contour (audio) \

Medical Definition of contour

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: an outline especially of a curving or irregular figure also : the line representing this outline


transitive verb

Medical Definition of contour (Entry 2 of 2)

: to shape the contour of contour a gingiva in gingivoplasty

More from Merriam-Webster on contour

Nglish: Translation of contour for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contour for Arabic Speakers


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