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

Example Sentences

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
Grab all your glassware, enlist your most generous guests to each bring a bottle, then compare and contrast. Mackenzie Chung Fegan, Bon Appétit, 17 Nov. 2022 For a fresh take, contrast the coat's hue with languid layers in a zippy citrus yellow. Nicole Kliest, Harper's BAZAAR, 15 Nov. 2022 Jean-Pierre sought to contrast Democrats and Republicans, claiming Democrats hold each other accountable. Kathryn Watson, CBS News, 11 Oct. 2022 Raimondo sought to contrast the UK’s approach with that of the Biden administration. Matt Egan, CNN, 29 Sep. 2022 Choose colors that complement your house exterior or contrast the color of your front door. Sophie Flaxman, Better Homes & Gardens, 25 Aug. 2022 The lighter flesh of the pumpkin will contrast with the darker color of the rind to create a pretty design that really pops. Emily Vanschmus, Better Homes & Gardens, 18 Oct. 2022 Bright blue skies contrast with the earthy colors of sand, rock and plants such as saguaros, barrel cactus, brittlebush, chollas and paloverde trees. Shanti Lerner, The Arizona Republic, 5 Oct. 2022 This season, colorful options by quirky designers like Eckhaus Latta and Marni contrast the more classic iterations with wooden soles, studs, and neutral leather uppers. Aemilia Madden, Harper's BAZAAR, 16 Sep. 2022
The current national mood stands in sharp contrast to the electrifying carnival that swept the nation in 2002, when Brazilians cheered as one as their team roared to a record-breaking fifth World Cup title. Gabriela Sá Pessoa, Washington Post, 23 Nov. 2022 But the lack of atmosphere, particularly in sharp contrast to a raucous environment for Friday’s home game against BYU, did not sap the Aztecs’ effort. Mark Zeigler, San Diego Union-Tribune, 15 Nov. 2022 Bezos’ methodical approach to giving stands in sharp contrast to that of his ex-wife, the philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, who recently gave away nearly $4 billion to 465 organizations in the span of less than a year. Brian Fung, CNN, 14 Nov. 2022 But Low’s minimalist, melancholy sound stood in sharp contrast to the anthems of Generation X angst that came to define the era. Alex Williams,, 12 Nov. 2022 But Low’s minimalist, melancholy sound stood in sharp contrast to the anthems of Generation X angst that came to define the era. Alex Williams, New York Times, 11 Nov. 2022 In a sharp contrast to L’Oreal, Meta discontinued its own concierge services for complimentary laundry and dry cleaning. Jane Thier, Fortune, 10 Nov. 2022 In sharp contrast to Harry Morgan or Joe Morse, Nick is a creature of pure instinct and little intelligence. Isaac Butler, The New Yorker, 1 Nov. 2022 Musk’s apparent enthusiasm about visiting Twitter headquarters this week stood in sharp contrast to one of his earlier suggestions: The building should be turned into a homeless shelter because so few employees actually worked there. Tom Krisher And Matt O'brien, Anchorage Daily News, 28 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


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

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. 2022.

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

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Spell It

Hear a word and type it out. How many can you get right?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.