miniature

noun
min·​i·​a·​ture | \ ˈmi-nē-ə-ˌchu̇r How to pronounce miniature (audio) , ˈmi-ni-ˌchu̇r How to pronounce miniature (audio) , 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 \ ˈmi-​nē-​ə-​ˌchu̇r-​ist , ˈmi-​ni-​ˌchu̇r-​ How to pronounce miniaturist (audio) , -​chər-​ , -​ˌtyu̇r-​ , -​ˌtu̇r-​ \ noun
miniaturistic \ ˌmi-​nē-​ə-​chə-​ˈri-​stik How to pronounce miniaturistic (audio) , 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

If the Dream House vignette didn’t tip you off, then the mountains of miniature cupcakes, suspended mid-air by a bouquet of balloons surely would: Barbie was turning 60, and in her usual fun-loving decadence, the celebration was no small affair. Zachary Weiss, Vogue, "Yara Shahidi Is a Barbie Girl: The Actress Celebrates the Doll’s 60th Anniversary," 12 Mar. 2019 These stunning miniatures are like bonsai trees pruned with a switchblade. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: A Year in the Life of a Short Story," 28 Dec. 2018 Boyden says everything from metal to quantum dots to DNA strands have patterns that could be fabricated in the extreme miniature. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Honey, I Shrunk Everything: MIT Scientists Can Shrink Objects to the Nanoscale," 18 Dec. 2018 The book, on loan from a private collection, is lettered and ornamented by Morris with miniatures by Burne-Jones. J.s. Marcus, WSJ, "In London, Medieval Legends Through Modern Eyes," 19 Oct. 2018 The audience learns early on that Annie is an artist who works from home making elaborate miniatures. Katherine Fusco, The Atlantic, "Hereditary and the Monstrousness of Creative Moms," 11 July 2018 Collette's Annie makes her living as an artist creating miniatures. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "Why 'Hereditary' Is Dividing Audiences," 10 June 2018 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

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The eyes met at the top of his head, where a pair of miniature eyebrows sat beneath a curled piece of hair. Lauren Rearick, Teen Vogue, "Ezra Miller Wore Multiple Sets of Eyes for His Met Gala 2019 Makeup," 7 May 2019 With hundreds of octagonal and square coffers, each one elaborately painted like a miniature oil in shades of coral, blue-gray, and pale green, its intensity can make choosing furnishings difficult. Nancy Hass, ELLE Decor, "A Legendary 1920s Palm Beach House is a Showcase for a Striking Art Collection," 17 Apr. 2019 The new miniature versions of Smeg's 50s Style Collection, the mini FAB5, come in five different colors (including a Union Jack!) and feature an adjustable thermostat and internal LED lighting. Madison Alcedo, Country Living, "Appliance We Want: Mini Smeg Fridges," 18 June 2014 Advertising Behind him was Casey, in one of the bunkers that resemble a miniature version of Oakmont’s church pews, facing a key shot into the wind to an elevated green. Doug Ferguson, The Seattle Times, "Casey holds on to repeat title at Valspar Championship," 24 Mar. 2019 The master bathroom held a tub full of miniature bottles of Miller High Life below a chandelier by Piet Hein Eek for Veronese. Ella Riley-adams, Vogue, "The Future Perfect Launches a Fully Shoppable Home With (What Else?) a House Party," 13 Mar. 2019 And this has to be the cutest way of all to harness that power in a fun way: solar nightlights shaped like miniature homes, apartment buildings, and townhouses. Michele Petry, House Beautiful, "It's So Easy to Build These Solar-Powered Nightlights," 13 Mar. 2019 Looking to relieve her miniature dachshund Parky’s arthritis, mother of two Teressa Sworsky discovered hemp oil. Kate Thayer, The Seattle Times, "Move over, jewelry and leggings. Selling CBD oil is the new side hustle for moms," 29 Jan. 2019 Essentially miniature greenhouses, these glass containers filled with florals make a whimsical addition to any home. Taysha Murtaugh, Country Living, "20 Best Terrarium Plants for Every Type of Home," 4 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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Statistics for miniature

Last Updated

17 May 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 How to pronounce miniature (audio) , 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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