con·​trast | \ kən-ˈtrast How to pronounce contrast (audio) , ˈkän-ˌtrast How to pronounce contrast (audio) \
contrasted; contrasting; contrasts

Definition of contrast

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to set off in contrast : compare or appraise in respect to differences Contrast European and American manners. Contrast the two major characters of the novel. often used with to or withcontrasting the painter with her contemporaries

intransitive verb

: to form a contrast


con·​trast | \ ˈkän-ˌtrast How to pronounce contrast (audio) \

Definition of contrast (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : juxtaposition of dissimilar elements (such as color, tone, or emotion) in a work of art
b : degree of difference between the lightest and darkest parts of a picture
2a : the difference or degree of difference between things having similar or comparable natures the contrast between the two forms of government
b : comparison of similar objects to set off their dissimilar qualities By contrast with newer models, the computer operates slowly. : the state of being so compared In contrast to the other estimates, his was very high.
3 : a person or thing that exhibits differences when compared with another The gentle girl is a contrast to the arrogant woman.

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Other Words from contrast


contrastable \ kən-​ˈtra-​stə-​bəl How to pronounce contrastable (audio) , ˈkän-​ˌtra-​ \ adjective
contrastingly \ kən-​ˈtra-​stiŋ-​lē How to pronounce contrastingly (audio) , ˈkän-​ˌtra-​ \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for contrast


compare, contrast, collate mean to set side by side in order to show differences and likenesses. compare implies an aim of showing relative values or excellences by bringing out characteristic qualities whether similar or divergent. compared the convention facilities of the two cities contrast implies an emphasis on differences. contrasted the computerized system with the old filing cards collate implies minute and critical inspection in order to note points of agreement or divergence. data from districts around the country will be collated

Examples of contrast in a Sentence

Verb Her black dress and the white background contrast sharply. We compared and contrasted the two characters of the story. Noun I observed an interesting contrast in the teaching styles of the two women. Careful contrast of the twins shows some differences. In contrast to last year's profits, the company is not doing very well. The queen's wit and humor made the prince seem dull by contrast. They spent millions of dollars on advertising. By way of contrast, our small company spent under 5,000 dollars.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb In James' initial comments on the Uninterrupted video, the 6-8 point forward explained how the two players' contrasting styles – with James more pass-oriented and the 6-6 Jordan more of a scorer – would've meshed well together. Scott Gleeson, USA TODAY, "LeBron James addresses his preference on playing against or with Michael Jordan," 19 May 2020 This piece compares and contrasts the recent leadership of President Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Fortune, "An energy CEO considers how to ‘reopen’," 29 Apr. 2020 The ground in the shot seems to feature a very colorful floor and contrasting aztec rug. Kelly Allen, House Beautiful, "What's Going on With Lady Gaga's Audio Room Floor?," 20 Apr. 2020 The nut butter is studded with crispy rice and salted peanuts, creating contrasting textures to ward off that sticky mouth feel that comes from eating too much nut butter. Aliza Abarbanel, Bon Appétit, "This Candy Bar Is 75 Percent Peanut Butter, So Of Course I’m Obsessed," 9 Apr. 2020 Gleaming, glassy business districts and suburbs pocked with swimming pools contrast sharply with enormous, densely packed ‘‘townships’’ and hardscrabble rural areas where the majority of the population lives., "South Africa enters lockdown as known COVID-19 cases surpass 1,000," 27 Mar. 2020 Regardless, the timing could hardly be better for Xi, contrasting China’s response with President Trump’s sudden decision to ban arrivals from Europe. Anna Fifield, Washington Post, "Under fire over coronavirus response, China turns to a familiar fall guy: Trump," 13 Mar. 2020 The black-orange contrasting color scheme is definitely a big-fish attractor, and the fat, buggy profile looks like a 3-course perch meal in one chomp. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, "The Best Flies for Catching Panfish," 12 Mar. 2020 Color has also been brought into the foliage of some varieties so that the flowers contrast against bronze to burgundy leaves. Joanne Kempinger Demski, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "New plants for 2020 put emphasis on attracting butterflies and bees, helping environment," 12 Mar. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun That's a direct contrast to Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and Ford Motor Co. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "Only 1 Detroit automaker has remained coronavirus-free: How it's keeping workers safe," 21 May 2020 That soothing image makes a stark contrast with the reality of Donald Trump’s evening binges on Fox News. Laura Marsh, The New Republic, "The Flawed Fantasy of a Different Hillary Clinton," 19 May 2020 In many ways, Reader represented a new wave of Ohio sheriffs, an energetic group of officers who enjoyed police work and wanted to be on the streets, a contrast to political appointees who wore coats and ties and rarely showed up at a crime scene. John Caniglia, cleveland, "Pike Co. sheriff, face of mass-murder investigation, accused of misappropriating funds: Update," 17 May 2020 Parks and fields filled with youth sports would be a notable contrast to professional, collegiate and even high school sports leagues, which are largely shut down with unknown return dates. Curt Hogg, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "What's next for youth sports now that Wisconsin is slowly reopening?," 15 May 2020 The attack occurred in the Dashti Barchi region of Kabul, which is home to members of the Hazara ethnic group, who are predominantly Shi’a Muslims, a contrast to the majority of Afghanistan, which is largely Sunni. Zachary Halaschak, Washington Examiner, "Dozens dead in Afghanistan after attack on maternity ward and suicide bombing at funeral," 12 May 2020 That's a marked contrast to her own experience in Maryland. Charisse Jones, USA TODAY, "No income and number 88,000 in line: This is what it's like to be unemployed in America," 30 Apr. 2020 That’s a strong contrast to last year’s cohort of young physicians, whose average mood score rose up to eight by the Chinese New Year. Rodrigo Pérez Ortega, Science | AAAS, "Health care workers seek to flatten COVID-19’s ‘second curve’—their rising mental anguish," 22 Apr. 2020 Later in the fall, the flowers give way to shiny black fruits the size of a pencil point that makes a great contrast with the leaves. Paul Cappiello, The Courier-Journal, "A life-long love for 'weird' plants means our columnist is extra excited about 'Sun King'," 17 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contrast.' 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 contrast


1646, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


1711, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for contrast

Verb and Noun

French contraster, from Middle French, to oppose, resist, alteration of contrester, from Vulgar Latin *contrastare, from Latin contra- + stare to stand — more at stand

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Time Traveler for contrast

Time Traveler

The first known use of contrast was in 1646

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Statistics for contrast

Last Updated

24 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Contrast.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for contrast


How to pronounce contrast (audio) How to pronounce contrast (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of contrast

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to be different especially in a way that is very obvious
: to compare (two people or things) to show how they are different


How to pronounce contrast (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of contrast (Entry 2 of 2)

: something that is different from another thing
: a difference between people or things that are being compared
: the act of comparing people or things to show the differences between them


con·​trast | \ kən-ˈtrast How to pronounce contrast (audio) \
contrasted; contrasting

Kids Definition of contrast

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to show noticeable differences Red contrasts with black.
2 : to compare two persons or things so as to show the differences between them Contrast the styles of these two authors.


con·​trast | \ ˈkän-ˌtrast How to pronounce contrast (audio) \

Kids Definition of contrast (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that is different from another Today's weather is quite a contrast to yesterday's.
2 : difference or the amount of difference (as in color or brightness) between parts a photo with good contrast
3 : difference or amount of difference between related or similar things the contrast between summer and winter

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Comments on contrast

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