fore·​short·​en fȯr-ˈshȯr-tᵊn How to pronounce foreshorten (audio)
foreshortened; foreshortening; foreshortens

transitive verb

: to shorten by proportionately contracting in the direction of depth so that an illusion of projection or extension in space is obtained
: to make more compact : abridge, shorten

Did you know?

Foreshorten first appeared in a 1606 treatise on art by the British writer and artist Henry Peacham: "If I should paint ... an horse with his brest and head looking full in my face, I must of necessity foreshorten him behinde." Peacham's "foreshorten" probably comes from "fore-" (meaning "earlier" or "beforehand") plus "shorten." The addition of "fore-" to verbs was a routine practice in Peacham's day, creating such words as "fore-conclude," "fore-consider," "fore-instruct," and "fore-repent." "Foreshorten," along with words like "foresee" and "foretell," is one of the few "fore-" combinations to still survive.

Examples of foreshorten in a Sentence

The parts that extend towards the viewer are foreshortened.
Recent Examples on the Web The painting also has elements of foreshortening that create an almost three-dimensional look to the muskets and other details in the painting. San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Feb. 2023 While the other clones were euthanized for more detailed analysis of their tissues, the scientists kept Dorami around to see if the process that had created her might foreshorten her time on Earth. Megan Molteni, STAT, 8 July 2022 However, because crises foreshorten the time horizon of most investors, Kroger’s shares are up more than 10% year to date, beating the market by roughly 25 percentage points. Adam Seessel, Fortune, 22 Apr. 2020 Throughout history, plagues and pandemics have flattened human aspirations and foreshortened attention spans from long-term plans to day-by-day survival. Steven Litt, cleveland, 12 Apr. 2020 The Golden Gate Bridge is seen from above, its sweeping lines foreshortened. Roland Li,, 24 Feb. 2020 While the foreshortened sleeping figures in the foreground and even the curving road at right are clearly nods to his brother-in-law, Bellini’s vision is his own. Mary Tompkins Lewis, WSJ, 3 Nov. 2018 Instead, Cooper uses a foreign artist’s exotic insight to foreshorten western-movie mythology. Armond White, National Review, 26 Jan. 2018 Muscles stretched magically, foreshortened shockingly. Jeet Heer, New Republic, 28 Aug. 2017 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use

1606, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of foreshorten was in 1606


Dictionary Entries Near foreshorten

Cite this Entry

“Foreshorten.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


fore·​short·​en fōr-ˈshȯrt-ᵊn How to pronounce foreshorten (audio)
: to shorten (a detail) in a drawing or painting so that it appears to have depth
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