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 contrast (audio) , ˈkän-​ˌtra-​ \ adjective
contrastingly \ kən-​ˈtra-​stiŋ-​lē How to pronounce contrast (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 Anchored by a generous island painted green to contrast its white shell, the kitchen gains texture from wipable vinyl grass cloth applied to the walls. Krissa Rossbund, Better Homes & Gardens, "Cool Colors and Whimsical Patterns Make a Splash in This 1970s Home," 7 May 2021 The program starts there to give students the ability to compare and contrast the past and present, as well as flip the narrative that the desert is inhospitable and lacks life. Megan Taros, azcentral, "'You're already experts': South Phoenix students empowered to reimagine their green spaces," 6 May 2021 In the case of All Elite Wrestling (AEW), the company has to find a way to contrast its product from Vince McMahon’s global industry leader World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). Peter Kahn, Forbes, "Blood & Guts And Razor Blades: Inside AEW’s Hazardous Attempt To Differentiate Its Brand," 6 May 2021 The scene — a young man rapping earnestly inside a chauffeured car — offered a window into how the Roys’ self-conception might contrast sharply with their destructive incompetence. New York Times, "The Composer at the Frontier of Movie Music," 6 May 2021 After releasing videos Tuesday confirming his candidacy, Crist held an outdoor rally that sought to contrast his record with that of Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis. Curt Anderson, Star Tribune, "Once GOP governor of Florida, Crist now runs as Democrat," 4 May 2021 Marjan loves to use ones that contrast her clients' hair color and has become a fan of Útiles Beauty's hair ties. Devon Abelman, Allure, "Floral Bubble Braids Are the Cutest Spring Hair Look," 2 May 2021 This particular model sports a black leather interior and Alcantara dash to contrast that audacious exterior. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, "Gearheads, Rejoice! The First McLaren P1 Ever Made Can Be Yours," 30 Apr. 2021 Mary Beth Sasso will explain how humans perceive color and the visual effects of how colors mix, match, or contrast with each other and how colors communicate., "Community News For The Vernon Edition," 23 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun That's a striking contrast with the Democratic side of the aisle, where 10 senators have double-digit bipartisan scores. Chris Cillizza, CNN, "'Bipartisanship' is a dirty word for Senate Republicans," 7 May 2021 Sharp cheekbones contrast with dark eyes that hint at mischief—although they're currently overtaken by consternation. Ew Staff,, "Excerpt: See how Sarah Kuhn's From Little Tokyo, With Love reinvents the fairy tale," 6 May 2021 Clove and coriander give a balancing, spicy contrast. Michael Agnew, Star Tribune, "Belgian witbiers, once forgotten, are popular summer sippers," 5 May 2021 The conditions at the unlicensed temporary Health and Human Services shelter contrast with improvements in serious overcrowding at Border Patrol facilities, especially in the Rio Grande Valley. Dianne Solis, Dallas News, "Worries rising about depression and other issues among migrant teens in Dallas emergency shelter," 5 May 2021 There’s the contrast between the size of their hands, and the interplay of textures between blue satin and dark skin. New York Times, "The Artist Upending Photography’s Brutal Racial Legacy," 5 May 2021 This contrast—between overwhelming tech riches and an increasingly precarious working class relying on occasional infusions of governmental generosity—reveals the hole at the heart of American economy policy. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, "Tech Giants’ Obscene Pandemic Profits Are Begging to Be Taxed," 30 Apr. 2021 That is in marked contrast to the cultural funding over the past decade, which was around $40 million a year, according to state officials. Charles Passy, WSJ, "New York Boosts Funding for Nonprofit Arts Groups," 22 Apr. 2021 The stark contrast in the number of killings mirrors the difference in how the US handles policing. Michelle Cheng, Quartz, "How the US ranks among other wealthy countries on police killings," 20 Apr. 2021

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

11 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Contrast.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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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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