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

In a display case at the Tomball Railroad Depot Museum stands a NASA space shuttle replica surrounded by miniature train cars. The display is part of a new exhibit created to honor the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing. Melanie Feuk, Houston Chronicle, "Tomball’s tribute to Apollo 11 anniversary reflects community’s railroad history," 28 June 2019 This miniature Hamm Shufflerz will dance and swing his way to you. Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored, "From Woody to Buzz, and of course Forky, here's your guide to the best 'Toy Story 4' merch," 14 June 2019 In a photo posted by SpaceCatPics, a cat is seen relaxing on a bed made of white sheets atop a wooden miniature bed frame. Selena Barrientos, House Beautiful, "Twitter Can’t Get Over This Cat’s Custom Bed Frame and Nightstand," 20 June 2019 The owner of the animals said miniatures originated in the Mediterranean area and donkeys live to be about 6 years old, while the horses can live up until about 40. Linda Gandee/special To Cleveland.com, cleveland.com, "19th century life showcased in Avon Lake’s Hike Into History," 16 June 2019 Stolen Horse International got involved after Hidden Pasture Farm owner Kate Nichols said last week that her miniature palomino filly had vanished overnight. Fox News, "Rescue group: Missing SC pony named 'Pikachu' found dead," 14 June 2019 Shelbyville's Damon Lux provided Duke's highlight in an NCAA tournament baseball game against Vanderbilt on Saturday night with a home run-saving catch, followed by a miniature Bryce Harper hair flip. Scott Horner, Indianapolis Star, "Watch Shelbyville's Damon Lux make a home run-stealing catch for Duke," 9 June 2019 The full-coverage liquid lipstick was originally available in miniature clear tubes, and was many a beauty guru's go-to. Helena Yeung, Teen Vogue, "Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Shuts Down Website and Social Media Accounts," 6 Apr. 2018 After numerous comparative analyses of portraits of both men, the miniature, catalogue number 3711, turns out to be a portrait of the sculptor Auguste Rodin. Jason Daley, Smithsonian, "Museumgoer Spots a Misidentified Portrait of Rodin," 7 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

In this scene, there’s Marlon Brando and this little person [Nelson de la Rosa], and Marlon Brando is playing the piano and on top of the piano is a little miniature version of himself playing a piano. Derek Lawrence, EW.com, "Fat Bastard and Mini-Me turn 20: Mike Myers on creating the memorable Austin Powers characters," 11 June 2019 In October 2016, then-President Barack Obama hosted a miniature version of the blowout tech conference South by Southwest, which the White House called South by South Lawn. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, "The Coalition Out to Kill Tech As We Know It," 4 June 2019 At a recent 80th anniversary celebration for Union Station, vendors sold soaps and crafts from Los Angeles artists, and a miniature version of the train station dazzled children. San Diego Union-Tribune, "At 80, Union Station tries to reinvent itself for a rail future," 21 May 2019 The chestnuts are born in Powell’s labs, where a veritable forest of miniature trees grow inside clear plastic containers stacked on metal shelves. Julia Rosen, latimes.com, "Should we resurrect the American chestnut tree with genetic engineering?," 25 June 2019 Unsurprisingly, the sub-$100 miniature PC has its limits. Jon Porter, The Verge, "$35 Raspberry Pi 4 announced with 4K support and up to 4GB of RAM," 24 June 2019 The kitchen obliges with lush salmon tartare cradled in glossy parkerhouse buns and impossibly light miniature waffles that crack open to reveal foie gras — also peanut butter and honey. Tom Sietsema, Washington Post, "Tom Sietsema’s 7 favorite places to eat (and drink) right now — plus one to avoid," 24 June 2019 In that operation, described in an article in The New York Times, doctors opened the abdomen and made tiny slits in the uterus to insert a camera and miniature instruments. Denise Grady, New York Times, "A Boy Who Had Spinal Surgery in the Womb Stands on His Own Two Feet," 24 June 2019 No, silent auction, art exhibits, bounce house and kids games, miniature horses, cornhole and more. Luann Gibbs, Cincinnati.com, "Things to do in Cincinnati this week: June 24-30," 24 June 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

12 Jul 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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