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

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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 Her first launch, 300,000 contour kits, sold out within two hours. Madeline Berg, Forbes, 6 Apr. 2021 Focusing too much on perfect placement and sharp contour in one area of the face at a time can result in a look that's more heavy-handed than intended. Cailey Darling, Allure, 1 Dec. 2020 Boy Brow, her essential everyday product, is applied in an upward motion, followed by contour, highlighter, and blush—all applied à la main—for a subtle glow. Akili King, Vogue, 31 May 2021 With contour ribbing and wide-fit straps, the bralette offers light to medium support to keep you comfortable in the sweltering temperatures and beyond — no boob sweat allowed. Jayla Andrulonis,, 10 July 2021 Face Trace Contour Stick in the shade Biscuit — arguably one of the best contour colors in existence. Tanya Akim, Forbes, 6 Apr. 2021 Fat repositioning surgery is meant to shift the fat under a patient's eyes that generally creates dark circles or puffiness into the contour of the under eye to give the area a fuller appearance. Naledi Ushe,, 24 June 2021 The gel foam will keep you cool at night and contour to your body for just-right support. Dave Johnson, Forbes, 24 June 2021 Here, 5-in-1 stands for conceal, contour, cover, highlight, and blend. Kaitlyn Yarborough, Southern Living, 29 June 2021 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 Where millennials haphazardly caked-on foundation in their youth, Gen Z had YouTube tutorials on how to contour. Holly Thomas, CNN, 30 Aug. 2021 Memory foam mattresses are known for their ability to contour to your curves. Jillian Mueller,, 18 Aug. 2021 The pillow is built to contour to the shape of the neck and spin, ensuring that your head remains in a natural position through the night. Maren Estrada, BGR, 13 Aug. 2021 This lightweight, grease free gel-cream is formulated using plant extracts like organic Quince leaf to lift and contour thighs and hips. Bianca Salonga, Forbes, 8 June 2021 According to TikTok makeup artist Felicia Marie, whose lipstick blush video has racked up 204,500 views and counting, the hack consists of using a bright red lipstick to contour with. Jacqueline Kilikita,, 16 Apr. 2021 Memory foam mattresses are made with layers of plush foam that contour around your curves to relieve pressure and isolate motion. Jillian Mueller,, 23 Apr. 2021 Top facialist Antonia Burrell loves facial cupping for providing a temporary lift, while Dr. Liakas pinpoints its potential to contour and sculpt cheekbones, as well as de-puff skin. Jacqueline Kilikita,, 12 Apr. 2021 Designed to contour the body and alleviate pressure points during sleep, this mattress comes in three firmness levels, ideal for sleepers of all types. Ciannah Gin, Forbes, 16 June 2021

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.

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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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Learn More About contour

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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Statistics for contour

Last Updated

10 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contour.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for contour



English Language Learners Definition of contour

: the outline or outer edge of something


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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