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 At home, too, attitudes toward vaccines contrast with those in the United States and Europe, where mistrust is high, Morrison says. Jon Cohen, Science | AAAS, "With global push for COVID-19 vaccines, China aims to win friends and cut deals," 25 Nov. 2020 His approach is likely to contrast sharply with Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, who leaves a legacy marked by overt partisanship and policy changes often based on what was politically beneficial to Trump. Evan Halper, Tracy Wilkinson, Los Angeles Times, "Trump bows to reality as Biden shapes historically diverse Cabinet," 23 Nov. 2020 Nothing sets protagonist Emily apart more than her wardrobe of kooky, literal-minded pieces that contrast with her French colleagues and their bon chic, bon genre mindset. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Lily Collins’s Take on Parisian Chic is Very Different Than Emily’s," 18 Nov. 2020 Even before he was formally projected as the winner of the election, Biden sought to contrast his concern for mounting Covid-19 infections, hospitalizations, and deaths with Trump’s inattention. Lev Facher, STAT, "‘It’s going to be very, very scary’: Before Biden takes office, a precarious 10 weeks for escalating Covid-19 crisis," 7 Nov. 2020 Compare and contrast the results to find out if one kind produces darker or brighter colors. Ruth A. Musgrave, National Geographic, "Need some re-leaf? Try these tree-tastic science experiments to keep kids busy this fall.," 28 Oct. 2020 The Trump administration’s lenient rules for corporate recipients of COVID-19 aid also contrast with its approach to government programs for poor people, such as Medicaid or food stamps. Noam N. Levey Staff Writer, Los Angeles Times, "Trump doled out billions to drug makers and hospitals with few strings attached," 29 Oct. 2020 But Chatterjee was eager to be among the first Republicans in government to signal support for carbon pricing, looking to contrast that method to combat climate change with the subsidies and mandates increasingly favored by Democrats. Josh Siegel, Washington Examiner, "Trump appointee becomes leading climate problem solver," 29 Oct. 2020 Weishahn said the Sierra’s dry, cold conditions contrast with the warm, dry conditions expected in the Bay Area starting on Sunday. Lauren Hernández,, "Temperatures near Lake Tahoe are about to plunge into the single digits," 24 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Reliance on pictorial persuasion in these docs brings to mind how friendly the media coverage of Obama has always been, in contrast to the media hostility aimed at George W. Bush and Donald Trump. Armond White, National Review, "Bowing Down to Obama," 27 Nov. 2020 The youngest is Elsie Dubray, an entrant in the Intel World Science Fair contest with her research into the nutritional value (specifically the lipid structure) of buffalo meat, in contrast to beef. Josephine Livingstone, The New Republic, "It’s a Perfect Year for a Non-Thanksgiving," 26 Nov. 2020 The report was completed last week, though the E.P.A. has not publicized it or issued a news release, which stands in contrast to the media blitz assembled by the Obama-era agency for the Volkswagen investigation. Coral Davenport, New York Times, "Illegal Tampering by Diesel Pickup Owners Is Worsening Pollution, E.P.A. Says," 25 Nov. 2020 In the meantime, a Fed-Treasury team of Powell and Yellen should function seamlessly, in contrast to the rare public spat last week between Powell and Steven Mnuchin over letting certain Fed emergency lending programs expire at the end of the year. Brian Chappatta Bloomberg Opinion (tns), Star Tribune, "Janet Yellen at Treasury points to era of Fed control," 24 Nov. 2020 That’s in contrast to the US shale industry, which relies on fracking to extract oil and gas out of formations. Michael J. Coren, Quartz, "The US oil industry is flailing despite a $10 billion pandemic lifeline," 23 Nov. 2020 In contrast to some organizations that conduct employee surveys just once a year, Trek will survey its entire workforce or portions of it on multiple occasions throughout the year. Fortune, "How Trek Bicycles has kept a great culture rolling in a fast-moving 2020," 23 Nov. 2020 The details of the conditional pardon reflect that, in contrast to the 50 years he was given, the sentencing guidelines for his convictions call for a range of 2 years and 7 months to 6 years and 4 months. Washington Post, "A young Black man with autism received a pardon, but remains behind bars. It’s time to ‘Free Matthew Rushin’.," 21 Nov. 2020 But those damaging blows pale in contrast to the havoc wrought by an auxiliary cable break on August 10, followed by a main cable failure on November 6. Leonard David, Scientific American, "Arecibo Observatory to Close Its Giant Eye on the Sky," 20 Nov. 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

30 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Contrast.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 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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