contour

noun
con·​tour | \ˈkän-ˌtu̇r \

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

contour

adjective

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

contour

verb
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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for contour

Synonyms: Noun

figure, outline, silhouette

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for contour

Noun

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

Monday’s developments provide little clarity about the contours of the coming months of the investigation. Shelby Holliday, WSJ, "Mueller Accuses Paul Manafort of Lying to FBI After Plea Agreement," 26 Nov. 2018 Gaze deeply at the contours of your lovers and potential beloveds. Bess Matassa, Teen Vogue, "Monthly Lovescopes October 2018," 3 Oct. 2018 About halfway through the Tiffany Tumbles video, viewers get an extended disquisition about the unique contours of transgender sexuality. Katherine Cross, The Verge, "The Oscar Wilde of YouTube fights the alt-right with decadence and seduction," 24 Aug. 2018 Without context, without their roots, the women are reduced to their cruelest contours. Mattie Kahn, Glamour, "Inside a Radical Experiment to Transform the Lives of Incarcerated Women," 22 Aug. 2018 This is taking on the contours of a trade conflict. Bloomberg News, Houston Chronicle, "Merkel warns of worldwide financial crisis," 4 July 2018 Tiger's tee shot ended up in the bunker, and his out is good, not great, running along the contours of the green. Adam Woodard, USA TODAY, "Tiger Tracker: Follow Tiger Woods' Saturday round at his tournament, the Quicken Loans National," 30 June 2018 The 340i just feels right, from the contours of the seat to the position of the stick to the kickback of the clutch. Robert Duffer, chicagotribune.com, "Review: 2018 BMW 3-Series still has it," 10 May 2018 Peper only tantalizes us with the vaguest contours of what the feed and its antiparticle, Analog, are like. Cyrus Farivar, Ars Technica, "Bandwidth is the techno-thriller novel that we need right now," 6 May 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

On Instagram there are countless people showing off their skills at contouring their cheekbones and seamlessly blending four colors of eye shadow on their lids. Marisa Meltzer, The Seattle Times, "How to do a makeup look in 5 minutes, tops," 7 Sep. 2018 Give the gums their bloody look by contouring with red eyeshadow, then apply fake blood liberally and give yourself a final blood spatter with red hairspray. Zoë Weiner, Teen Vogue, "The Scariest Halloween Makeup Tutorials," 8 Oct. 2018 Coolsculpting, a specific brand of cryolipolysisis, is a non-invasive body contouring treatment that can be performed under the chin, among other areas of the body. Michelle Gant, Fox News, "'Selfie awareness' has millennials turning to double chin removal procedures," 21 Sep. 2018 The best way to achieve this on your own is to use purple eyeshadow to contour your cheekbones and neck. Blake Bakkila, Good Housekeeping, "We Can't Get Enough of This Easy Vampire Makeup Tutorial for Halloween," 6 Sep. 2018 After baking with setting powder, Miller then uses a hydrating mist to set his work before baking again and then contouring. Allie Fasanella, Allure, "Watch Mayhem Miller of Drag Race Apply Her Full Face of Makeup In This Mind-Blowing Video," 3 July 2018 After prepping her face with moisturizer, makeup artist Andréa Tiller highlighted her face then contoured her cheeks with a soft, rosy blush. Lauren Valenti, Marie Claire, "The Secret Trick Amy Schumer Uses for Her Perfect Smoky Eye," 17 July 2015 As such, there’s little the actors can do to contour their performances; they are left to hone line readings, which are always sitcom accurate. Jesse Green, New York Times, "Review: In ‘Log Cabin,’ It’s Gay vs. Trans as the Rainbow Crumbles," 25 June 2018 Then contouring went mainstream and products started arriving at my desk in dark chocolate and ebony shades deep enough to get the effect that many fair-skinned women turn to bronzer for. Jessica Cruel, SELF, "I Found a Bronzer That Actually Shows Up on My Dark Skin," 23 May 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of contour

Noun

1662, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1844, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1871, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for contour

Noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about contour

Statistics for contour

Last Updated

3 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contour

The first known use of contour was in 1662

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for contour

contour

noun

English Language Learners Definition of contour

: the outline or outer edge of something

contour

noun
con·​tour | \ˈkän-ˌtu̇r \

Kids Definition of contour

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

contour

noun
con·​tour | \ˈkän-ˌtu̇(ə)r \

Medical Definition of contour 

(Entry 1 of 2)

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

contour

transitive verb

Medical Definition of contour (Entry 2 of 2)

: to shape the contour of contour a gingiva in gingivoplasty

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on contour

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with contour

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for contour

Spanish Central: Translation of contour

Nglish: Translation of contour for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contour for Arabic Speakers

Comments on contour

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

WORD OF THE DAY

a typical or ideal example

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!