contour

1 of 3

noun

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

2 of 3

adjective

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

3 of 3

verb

contoured; contouring; contours

transitive verb

1
a
: 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
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

Example Sentences

Noun He loved the sleek contours of the car. The map showed the contour of the coastline.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Similar to the Boston clogs, these slip-ons feature an upper that's soft and flexible, as well as genuine suede insoles, which easily form to the contour of the wearer's foot. Kayla Blanton, Peoplemag, 17 Oct. 2022 Then get them this comfy back cushion, which is molded to perfectly fit the contour of the lower back and includes a strap to keep it in place. Corinne Sullivan, Good Housekeeping, 6 Sep. 2022 Using a superluminescent diode (similar to a laser) to measure the surface and contour of the eye, COAS would ultimately find an application in LASIK procedures and in a system called iDesign. Eric Tegler, Popular Mechanics, 27 Sep. 2022 Meet the one-dot contour—a technique popularized in late 2021 by Megan Lavallie, 27, a TikTok influencer in Houston. Amber Kallor, WSJ, 1 Oct. 2022 With full lashes, a soft blue-black smokey eye, nude lip contour, and brows, the makeup also followed that 90s glam inspiration. Essence, 20 Sep. 2022 As for the rest of her look, Cyrus is wearing some contour, light neutral eye shadow, eyeliner, and a light pink lip color that matches her peach dress perfectly. Addison Aloian, Allure, 17 May 2022 Young Yuh's skin care and makeup routine usually takes 35 minutes: cleanser, toner, some type of serum, moisturizer, sunscreen, primer, concealer, contour, blush and eyeliner. David Oliver, USA TODAY, 18 Feb. 2022 More to Know: A buildable cream-to-powder contour stick that delivers a matte finish. Kiana Murden, Vogue, 2 Sep. 2022
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, refinery29.com, 20 May 2020
Verb
However, Tempur-Pedic did offer basic mattress suggestions for different sleep positions: Side and stomach sleepers may prefer softer to medium-feel mattresses that can contour their bodies and relieve pressure. Amanda Constantine, Good Housekeeping, 7 July 2022 Apply dark brown eyeshadows to contour the face with lots of layers and give it a ghastly texture. Irene Richardson, Country Living, 20 Oct. 2022 Instead of going in with a lip color over top, Hailey uses the liner to contour her lips. Seventeen, 23 Aug. 2022 Still, my middle school insecurities arise when someone snaps a photo at the wrong angle or whenever a makeup artist, seemingly on autopilot, starts to contour my nose. Alaina Demopoulos, Allure, 11 Aug. 2022 It’s made of durable high-density foam that will contour to your knees and won’t break down or compress over time. Renee Freemon Mulvihill, Better Homes & Gardens, 1 Sep. 2022 In terms of Riot Swim's actual collections, each swim (and athleisure) style is made from a flexible technical material that's designed to contour to your shape, while simultaneously offering support and comfort. Shelby Ying Hyde, Harper's BAZAAR, 2 Aug. 2022 Figueroa recommends to locate the cheekbone, then place two fingers underneath to find a good place to contour. Jacqueline Saguin, Good Housekeeping, 17 Aug. 2022 In fact, many people are just now learning how to properly contour. ELLE, 23 Apr. 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.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

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

Time Traveler
The first known use of contour was in 1662

Dictionary Entries Near contour

Cite this Entry

“Contour.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/contour. Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

contour 1 of 3

noun

con·​tour ˈkän-ˌtu̇(ə)r How to pronounce contour (audio)
1
: the outline of a figure, body, or surface
2
: a line or drawing showing an outline

contour

2 of 3

adjective

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

contour

3 of 3

verb

1
: to shape the contour of
2
: to shape to fit contours

Medical Definition

contour 1 of 2

noun

con·​tour ˈkän-ˌtu̇(ə)r How to pronounce contour (audio)
: an outline especially of a curving or irregular figure
also : the line representing this outline

contour

2 of 2

transitive verb

: to shape the contour of
contour a gingiva in gingivoplasty

More from Merriam-Webster on contour

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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