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 with contrasting 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


Her black dress and the white background contrast sharply. We compared and contrasted the two characters of the story.


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

The owners ended up painting the 50 layers of wooden cladding different shades of blue-green, creating a subtle gradient effect that contrasts perfectly with the black panels at the top of the house. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Modern home stands out with gradient facade," 5 Nov. 2018 Monson says the district’s administrative expenses are 3.5 percent of the budget, contrasted with 7 to 9 percent for other large districts nationally. Stu Bykofsky,, "Why Philly's School District is a money pit | Stu Bykofsky," 12 Mar. 2018 Trump’s low-key King holiday contrasts with how some of his recent predecessors observed the day. kansascity, "Trump marks King day out of view, buffeted by race claims | The Kansas City Star," 15 Jan. 2018 The yellow from the sunflowers looks great contrasted with the red from the cranberries, and offsets the brown from your Thanksgiving table. 3. Fox News, "Cool Thanksgiving table decorations that won’t break the bank," 26 Nov. 2015 The only contrasting color in the ensemble came from her miniature white box bag by Mark Cross, because naturally, even her bright pop of lip gloss matched perfectly with the color palette. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Jennifer Lopez's Head-to-Toe Neon Coral Outfit is Brighter Than My Future," 17 Dec. 2018 The correspondent contrasted her kindness to Prince William and Kate Middleton's behavior. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Why Duchess Camilla Is the Press's Favorite Royal," 7 Nov. 2018 Interestingly enough, Vulture's Hunter Harris astutely points out that, in the film, the home is bright and full of energy, directly contrasting the harrowing struggles the Sheffs face inside. Taylor Mead, House Beautiful, "The Stunning House In Beautiful Boy Is Also In Big Little Lies," 26 Oct. 2018 When asked about the influence of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon on the market, Bouvier contrasted the two companies’ approaches. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "AMD's 'Raven Ridge' APU designer points to power as its next advantage," 23 Aug. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

By contrast, revenue growth is projected at 5.7%, leading to a 5.9% efficiency gap, the survey found. Tatyana Shumsky, WSJ, "Finance Teams Bet Technology Will Bridge Budget Gap," 5 Mar. 2019 By contrast, the 91st Academy Awards have already been an unmitigated disaster for months, and four days out from the ceremony itself, the Academy is still doing damage control in the wake of its numerous misguided attempts to shake things up. Emma Dibdin, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kevin Hart, the "Popular" Film & Cancelled Categories: A Complete Timeline of the 2019 Oscar Drama," 21 Feb. 2019 By contrast, United is looking strong under unbeaten new coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with no major injuries. Jerome Pugmire, The Seattle Times, "PSG missing Cavani for Champions League 1st leg v Man United," 10 Feb. 2019 Guo Pei’s bride, by contrast, was an heroic study of stillness. Jordan Roth, Vogue, "Jordan Roth: A Man’s View on the Haute Couture," 28 Jan. 2019 By contrast, digital transactions requiring a simple card swipe or wave of a smart device are typically fast and efficient. Town & Country, "Is This the End of Cash?," 28 Jan. 2019 By contrast, Middleton's new clothes in 2018 reportedly cost $85,097, a mere fraction to Markle's wardrobe. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Meghan Markle Had the Most Expensive Royal Wardrobe in 2018—By a Landslide," 6 Jan. 2019 Trump, by contrast, could end up simply discrediting the whole idea of an outsider presidency. Vox Staff, Vox, "The most thought-provoking books the Vox staff read in 2018," 21 Dec. 2018 Search engines, by contrast, are subjective and zero-sum. Adi Robertson, The Verge, "The long, tortured quest to make Google unbiased," 6 Dec. 2018

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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Statistics for contrast

Last Updated

16 Mar 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for contrast

The first known use of contrast was in 1646

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More Definitions for contrast



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



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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More from Merriam-Webster on contrast

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with contrast

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for contrast

Spanish Central: Translation of contrast

Nglish: Translation of contrast for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contrast for Arabic Speakers

Comments on contrast

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


to reflect, repel, echo, or resound

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