miniature

noun
min·​i·​a·​ture | \ ˈmi-nē-ə-ˌchu̇r , ˈmi-ni-ˌchu̇r, ˈmin-yə-, -chər, -ˌtyu̇r, -ˌtu̇r \

Definition of miniature

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a copy on a much reduced scale The designer displayed a miniature of the Washington, D.C. Mall.
b : something small of its kind The little boy looked like his father in miniature.
2 : a painting in an illuminated (see illuminate entry 1 sense 4) book or manuscript
3 : the art of painting miniatures The artist excelled in miniature.
4 : a very small portrait or other painting (as on ivory or metal) The lady wore a locket containing a miniature of her mother.
in miniature
: in a greatly diminished size, form, or scale

miniature

adjective

Definition of miniature (Entry 2 of 2)

: being or represented on a small scale

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Other Words from miniature

Noun

miniaturist \ -​ˌchu̇r-​ist , -​chər-​ , -​ˌtyu̇r-​ , -​ˌtu̇r-​ \ noun
miniaturistic \ ˌmi-​nē-​ə-​chə-​ˈris-​tik , ˌmi-​ni-​ , ˌmin-​yə-​ , -​ˌtyu̇-​ , -​ˌtu̇-​ \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for miniature

Adjective

small, little, diminutive, minute, tiny, miniature mean noticeably below average in size. small and little are often interchangeable, but small applies more to relative size determined by capacity, value, number. a relatively small backyard little is more absolute in implication often carrying the idea of petiteness, pettiness, insignificance, or immaturity. your pathetic little smile diminutive implies abnormal smallness. diminutive bonsai plants minute implies extreme smallness. a minute amount of caffeine in the soda tiny is an informal equivalent to minute. tiny cracks formed in the painting miniature applies to an exactly proportioned reproduction on a very small scale. a dollhouse with miniature furnishings

How Miniature Came to Mean What It Does

The word miniature is about size, specifically, small size. But its Latin ancestor concerned not size, but color.

In the era before the invention of the printing press, anything printed was printed by hand: someone pressed a pigmented point to a surface and left marks. People used black pigment mostly, but sometimes they used red, especially for titles, large initial letters, and decorative drawings. The Latin name for the red coloring—which was either cinnabar or red lead—was minium, and the corresponding verb meaning "to color with minium" was miniare.

In early Italian, the association of decorative drawings with miniare was so strong that the meaning of miniare was broadened until it simply meant "to decorate a manuscript." A noun form of the word, miniatura, was used to refer to the art of illuminating—that is, of adding illustrations to—a manuscript, regardless of the colors used. Since the illuminations in manuscripts (as the illustrations themselves are called) were small by comparison with most other paintings, miniatura came to refer not only to a manuscript illumination but to any small portrait or painting, and eventually to anything very small. English speakers had adopted the word as miniature by the 16th century.

Examples of miniature in a Sentence

Noun

a diorama filled with miniatures of town buildings as they looked in the 19th century

Adjective

a collection of miniature books The little boy looks like a miniature version of his father.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Zawra Park, which opened in 1971 and which includes a 200-acre zoo, is the story of Baghdad in miniature: a once beautiful area that has fallen in disrepair because of neglect, conflict and corruption. Nabih Bulos, The Seattle Times, "Baghdad, once a jewel among Arab capitals, is barely functional," 28 Jan. 2019 This miniature painting shines with brilliant intensity. Sharmila Mukherjee, The Seattle Times, "SAM’s ‘Peacock in the Desert’ opens the doors of our perception to the marvelous," 2 Jan. 2019 Wolf and Marcus added a miniature train, jet planes, fire engines, miniature roller coaster, merry-go-round, boat rides and pony rides. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "RetroIndy: Little America and Wonderland kiddie park," 15 June 2018 In any other work space, glitter bears, translucent, rainbow domes, and a miniature conference room decked out in Versace's iconic golden vector pattern might look out of place. refinery29.com, "Inside Instagram's New NYC Office, Where The Gelato Is Free & The Bar Is Always Open," 11 June 2018 Like the fact that Annie is an artist who works in miniatures. Gary Thompson, Philly.com, "'Hereditary': Toni Collette is the main attraction of this old school horror movie layered thick with original ideas," 6 June 2018 The type of miniature camera Maxwell used is not known. Scott Harrison, latimes.com, "From the Archives: Murder suspect caught wearing a hat, not hiding behind it," 17 Apr. 2018 This is the kind of pattern that can enable a culture of corporate harassment, in miniature. Constance Grady, Vox, "Eliza Dushku was harassed at CBS. The report suggests the network’s problems go deep.," 14 Dec. 2018 The miniature is set on a yellow silk ribbon and worn pinned to the left shoulder of the recipient's dress. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "The First Photos of Kate Middleton Wearing an Special Honor From the Queen Are Breathtaking," 24 Oct. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The seventh room is miniature and you're only allowed a quick peek. Meredith Carey, Condé Nast Traveler, "Where to See Yayoi Kusama's Art Across the U.S.," 27 July 2018 In 2002, researchers cloned the first miniature pig lacking alpha-gal. Joshua Mezrich, WSJ, "Losing the Humanity of Transplants," 18 Jan. 2019 The brand created matching miniature ones for Kulture, too. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "Cardi B Takes Mommy-and-Me Style to a Dazzling New Level on Instagram," 7 Jan. 2019 Ars staffers have their roster of favorite subscriptions to cycle through whether hopping a train, killing time on a flight, or dusting our shelves of vinyl miniature figurines. Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "A few of our favorite podcasts in 2018, from new to new-to-us," 23 Dec. 2018 In another, far darker continuity, Hank attacks Janet, who has shrunk to miniature size to escape his wrath, with RAID and a hoard of gigantic ants. refinery29.com, "Ant-Man & The Wasp Have A Disturbing Incident Of Domestic Abuse In Their Past," 5 July 2018 Fresh Soy Face Cleanser in the miniature size is the perfect addition to your travel bag. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What April's Pisces Horoscope Means for You," 29 Mar. 2018 Loaded with 30 classic games (among them Super Mario Bros., The Legend of Zelda, and Donkey Kong Jr.), the console has the look and feel as the original with one key difference: It’s been shrunk to miniature size for your gaming convenience. Rachel Tepper Paley, Bloomberg.com, "Eight Retro Gadgets That Got Modern Updates," 18 Jan. 2018 Source: Mumbai Railway Police Her office shelves are stacked with awards, a rock from the metro digging and a miniature model of a boring machine. Corinne Abrams, WSJ, "‘You Have to Actually Cut Open Mumbai’s Belly’—Inside One of the World’s Most Audacious Transit Projects," 6 Jan. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'miniature.' 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 miniature

Noun

circa 1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

1714, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for miniature

Noun

Italian miniatura art of illuminating a manuscript, from Medieval Latin, from Latin miniatus, past participle of miniare to color with minium, from minium red lead

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Learn More about miniature

Statistics for miniature

Last Updated

8 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for miniature

The first known use of miniature was circa 1586

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More Definitions for miniature

miniature

noun

English Language Learners Definition of miniature

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a very small sculpture, portrait, or painting

miniature

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of miniature (Entry 2 of 2)

: very small

miniature

noun
min·​i·​a·​ture | \ ˈmi-nē-ə-ˌchu̇r , ˈmi-ni-ˌchu̇r\

Kids Definition of miniature

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a copy of something that is much smaller than the original I made a miniature of the Eiffel Tower.
2 : a very small portrait or painting

miniature

adjective

Kids Definition of miniature (Entry 2 of 2)

: very small miniature books a miniature breed of dogs

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Comments on miniature

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