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

Many are miniatures or small of scale; even his Symphony No. 3, one of his most acclaimed works for full orchestra, clocks in at a swift 15 minutes. Michael Cooper, New York Times, "Oliver Knussen, ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ Composer, Dies at 66," 9 July 2018 There are several Minox cameras, including a rare Minox Riga, the first and smallest sub-miniature ever sold commercially by the brand. Jason Tesauro, chicagotribune.com, "Channel your inner James Bond at this auction of Soviet spy cameras," 25 June 2018 The exacting architecture of miniatures makes this delightful little space entrancing. Lori Fulk / Indystar, Indianapolis Star, "Indiana for shy kids: 10 quiet hangouts your kid will love," 19 June 2018 Several of the miniatures in the film are rooms in the actual Graham house itself. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "And other revelations from model and makeup effects designer Steve Newburn," 14 June 2018 These miniatures also provide her with some sense of control, an ability to move these little people that look like her husband Steve (Gabriel Byrne), and son Peter (Alex Wolff), around. Richard Newby, The Hollywood Reporter, "Why 'Hereditary' Is Dividing Audiences," 10 June 2018 Unfortunately for the Grahams, the miniatures only become more disturbing. Katherine Fusco, The Atlantic, "Hereditary and the Monstrousness of Creative Moms," 11 July 2018 But while Scott is shrunk in miniature, Thanos destroys half of all life in the universe. Eliana Dockterman, Time, "Here's What Happens in the Ant-Man and the Wasp Post-Credits Scenes," 6 July 2018 Their history is being repeated in miniature by Camille’s young half sister, Amma (a captivating Eliza Scanlen), who is demure (like Adora) at home but wild and rebellious (like Camille) with her friends. James Poniewozik, New York Times, "‘Sharp Objects,’ a Mesmerizing Southern Thriller, Cuts Slow but Deep," 5 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

For Prince Harry's wedding, George wore a miniature version of the Blues and Royals uniform that his father and and Uncle wore for the big day. Sam Dangremond, Town & Country, "Prince George and Prince William Matched at Their Baby Brothers' Christenings—34 Years Apart," 9 July 2018 Among the animals displaced by the fire were 12 horses, three goats, three alpacas and two miniature horses, which were sheltered at the Lakeside Rodeo Grounds. Karen Pearlman, sandiegouniontribune.com, "A few animals from West Fire waiting to be reunited with families," 10 July 2018 Last week, City Manager Richard Salamon found himself in the hot seat after a local baker told commissioners that Salamon objected when told his coupon for a free $3.99 miniature Bundt cake had expired. Susannah Bryan, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Sunrise city manager keeps job despite bust-up over Bundt cake," 6 July 2018 Add 4 cups miniature marshmallows and a few drops of blue food coloring. Jennifer Mcclellan, ajc, "6 colorful Fourth of July recipes to make your party sparkle," 4 July 2018 His paintings explore themes of urban decay, with miniature forests spilling off the canvas. Michael Tortorello, New York Times, "A Lifelike Version of Nature, but Not to Scale," 8 May 2018 Friday night’s kick-off activities included a cardboard canoe race, river crafts, face painting, a light bright board where kids made images with glowing sticks and a miniature obstacle course. David Sharos, Aurora Beacon-News, "Saturday fireworks planned as Yorkville River Fest celebrates on and near the water," 14 July 2018 Coastal mountain summits often poke through the top and look like miniature islands. Tom Stienstra, SFChronicle.com, "’Tis the season for ‘Dancing with Fog’," 12 July 2018 The device, called an automated water sampler, looks like a miniature lab inside a black pelican case. Terace Garnier, Fox News, "NC town battles opioid epidemic by using robots to test people’s poop," 12 July 2018

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

6 Sep 2018

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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