1 of 2


contrasted; contrasting; contrasts

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
kən-ˈtra-stə-bəl How to pronounce contrast (audio)
kən-ˈtra-stiŋ-lē How to pronounce contrast (audio)


2 of 2


con·​trast ˈkän-ˌtrast How to pronounce contrast (audio)
: juxtaposition of dissimilar elements (such as color, tone, or emotion) in a work of art
: degree of difference between the lightest and darkest parts of a picture
: the difference or degree of difference between things having similar or comparable natures
the contrast between the two forms of government
: 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.
: a person or thing that exhibits differences when compared with another
The gentle girl is a contrast to the arrogant woman.
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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
This dynamic broadcast microphone features a contrasting black grille that gives the PodMic a sleek but classic look. Mark Sparrow, Forbes, 30 Nov. 2023 What to Consider While some may like the contrasting orange wheels and interior lining, others may find them a little bit garish for a professional setting. Jessica MacDonald, Travel + Leisure, 27 Nov. 2023 Jennie contrasted with her bandmates in a sweet, bridal ensemble. Hannah Jackson, Vogue, 21 Nov. 2023 There are some elevated style details, too, like the contrasting neoprene cuff around the upper part of the shaft and the chunkier sole with the subtle platform lift. Chadner Navarro, Condé Nast Traveler, 20 Nov. 2023 The pair wore contrasting monotone colors with their signature edgy style as they were photographed stepping out for a date night at the GQ Men of the Year Party on Thursday. Kimberlee Speakman, Peoplemag, 17 Nov. 2023 Off-white or cream and contrasting wall and trim color combinations (such as gray-blue, muted green, mustard yellow, or barn red, for example) recall colonial-style interiors. Jessica Bennett, Better Homes & Gardens, 17 Nov. 2023 Medium brown hardwood floors neatly contrast against the pale decor, a neutral palette filled mostly with whites and some pops of light gray. James McClain, Robb Report, 15 Nov. 2023 The boom in autos contrasts with broader weakness in exports as the global economy slows. Jason Douglas, WSJ, 19 Nov. 2023
Marks, in contrast, produced all 12 tracks on the record alongside boygenius. Mesfin Fekadu, The Hollywood Reporter, 1 Dec. 2023 Those rates stood in marked contrast to the completion rates for students beginning at private, for-profit schools (46.0%) and at public two-year colleges (43.4%). Michael T. Nietzel, Forbes, 30 Nov. 2023 That is in contrast to Malaysia, which has picked the film as its Oscar contender but where censors have cut so much out of it that Eu has disowned the local print. Janine Stein, Variety, 30 Nov. 2023 The third season ratchets up the contrast between Slough House and its glitzy counterpart, the Park, where the agents are in good standing, the lights are bright and the staff is stylish, safe and well-funded. Lili Loofbourow, Washington Post, 29 Nov. 2023 In contrast, DeSantis and Haley have become openly hostile toward him. Brady Knox, Washington Examiner, 29 Nov. 2023 The poultry industry seemed like a straightforward target for reform, in contrast to more complicated battles against Big Tech. H. Claire Brown, New York Times, 29 Nov. 2023 Sabu, in contrast, was possessed of a resolutely earthbound quality, along with the heady perfume of the unfamiliar to American audiences. Hazlitt, 29 Nov. 2023 In the fastest-warming part of the planet, the Svalbard reindeer’s relative success is a welcome contrast to the challenges facing many other northern animals. Cheryl Katz, Smithsonian Magazine, 29 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'contrast.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



borrowed from French contraster "to be in opposition (of elements of a work of art)," re-formation (after Italian contrastare "to oppose, set against, be in opposition [of elements of a work of art]") of Middle French contrester "to resist, oppose, struggle against," going back to Old French, going back to Vulgar Latin *contrāstāre "to oppose," from Latin contrā "opposite, facing, against" + stāre "to stand" — more at contra-, stand entry 1


borrowed from French contraste, borrowed from Italian contrasto "debate, discord, juxtaposition of elements in a work of art," noun derivative of contrastare "to oppose, set against, be in opposition (of elements of a work of art)" — more at contrast entry 1

First Known Use


1646, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


1711, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of contrast was in 1646

Dictionary Entries Near contrast

Cite this Entry

“Contrast.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 verb
: to show noticeable differences
: to compare two persons or things so as to show the differences between them


2 of 2 noun
con·​trast ˈkän-ˌtrast How to pronounce contrast (audio)
: a person or thing that shows differences when compared to another
: difference or unlikeness (as in color or brightness) between related things especially when very plain

More from Merriam-Webster on contrast

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