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

Essential Meaning of contour

: the outline or outer edge of something He loved the sleek/smooth/flowing contours of the car. The map showed the contour of the coastline.

Full 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 The strip, which Rossi calls Line Control Technology, lets the ski contour and track on edge, while limiting the transmission of vibration across the width of the ski. Marc Peruzzi, Outside Online, 9 Jan. 2022 Slopes are supposed to be stabilized and returned to their original contour; rainfall needs to be managed; grasses or trees must be planted. James Bruggers, The Courier-Journal, 5 Jan. 2022 After years of perfecting imperceptible makeup, the kind designed to conceal, contour and highlight, something new is afoot. New York Times, 9 Dec. 2021 Combined with a magnetic transducer, the line between regenerative braking and mechanical stopping power has a better contour, especially when driving more aggressively. Kyle Edward, Robb Report, 29 Dec. 2021 From Madison Beer's contour and blush tutorial to Nicola Peltz' guide to the perfect cat eye to Maye Musk's tips to styling gray hair, the year was filled with expert insights. Kiana Murden, Vogue, 21 Dec. 2021 Ayca, an artist who has a thriving scarf business, set to work on a re-brand, designing whimsical merch like tote bags with blind contour drawings of faces. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, 4 Oct. 2021 The $159 AirPods 3 promise spatial audio, better sound quality, longer-lasting battery, a new contour design and customizable sound that adapts to what the ear is hearing, a feature already available on Apple's higher-end AirPods Pro line. Samantha Murphy Kelly, CNN, 19 Oct. 2021 With respect to audio performance, AirPods 3 has a brand new custom distortion driver for more powerful bass, clean high frequencies, and a new contour design for better acoustics. Yoni Heisler, BGR, 18 Oct. 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 Brown's 29-second video response to the TikTok user was simple: there's absolutely no need to contour your nose. Sara Miranda, Allure, 12 Jan. 2022 Along with a primer and smoothing serum, this set includes a mini facial toning device and a Fix Line Smoothing device—two tools that use microcurrents to tone, lift, and contour the skin. Kiana Murden, Vogue, 18 Nov. 2021 The Original Sleep Pillow has a unique design that actually has a supportive inner pillow and is encased in another lofty pillow to cushion and contour the curves of your head and neck. Sanah Faroke,, 1 Sep. 2021 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

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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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

25 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Contour.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Jan. 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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