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 miniature (audio) , -​chər-​ , -​ˌtyu̇r-​ , -​ˌtu̇r-​ \ noun
miniaturistic \ ˌmi-​nē-​ə-​chə-​ˈri-​stik How to pronounce miniature (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 And then another, sometimes with a miniature of anisette. Rafael Alvarez, CNN, "The peace, insights and life-rescuing power of the rosary and other religious prayer beads," 27 Dec. 2020 Seeing the ever-changing Malaysian landscape, her goal is to preserve historic places by replicating them in miniature. Megan Embrey, House Beautiful, "This Malaysian Artist Turns Real Places Into Miniature Masterpieces," 10 Dec. 2020 Thanks, Reddit, for giving us the year in miniature. Tyler Aquilina, EW.com, "The Office, Game of Thrones, Tenet top Reddit's most popular movies and TV shows of 2020," 8 Dec. 2020 Such decisions are already playing out in miniature at the local level, where cities looking to lead on climate begin greening police departments that many would like to defund. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "Welcome to the New Era of Cops Driving Teslas," 3 Dec. 2020 The nightclub Tao, that hot 2000s palace of Patrón and EDM, was recreated in miniature. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "How COVID-19 Dethroned the Kardashians," 17 Nov. 2020 And now her miniature of it has proud placement in her Hancock Park living room. Los Angeles Times, "Will the pandemic turn our favorite old-time L.A. shops and restaurants into memories, or can we do more together to save them?," 31 Oct. 2020 Small wonder, seeing how the back yard feels like a lush French Quarter courtyard in miniature, with ferns and potted plants providing the green backdrop and a white wire table and chairs serving as seating. R. Stephanie Bruno, NOLA.com, "'Doll house' is fairy-tale-worthy on the outside, sophisticated on the inside," 22 Oct. 2020 Teerlinc, meanwhile, is represented by an intimate portrait miniature of Edward VI. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian Magazine, "Spotlighting 500 Years of Women in British Art, From Tudor Portraitists to the Bloomsbury Group," 22 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Typically, the displays are characterized by more playful holiday fare: In 2018 there was a detailed miniature model of the entire department store, complete with mouse figurines clad in tiny versions of the employees’ blue overalls. New York Times, "The Department Store That Does Holiday Cheer Like No Other," 23 Dec. 2020 The White House pastry chefs prepared an elaborate gingerbread replica of the residence, complete with furniture, curtains, and miniature versions of our dogs, Bo and Sunny. Cori Murray, Essence, "Barack Obama Recalls Bringing Holiday Magic To All At The White House," 23 Dec. 2020 The Théâtre de la Mode concept that Scott riffed on, lifted from World War II era couturiers who sent miniature versions of their work on the road to save their businesses, was a leitmotif of the season—but nobody pulled it off with Scott’s panache. Nicole Phelps, Vogue, "These Were the 10 Most-Viewed Brands on Vogue Runway in 2020," 23 Dec. 2020 Select styles also come in miniature versions for kids. Barry Samaha, Harper's BAZAAR, "LoveShackFancy and Morgan Lane Partner on the Prettiest Loungewear Collection," 15 Dec. 2020 New this year are light-up tributes to health care workers and acrylic dividers in the miniature train. Missy Wilkinson, NOLA.com, "From Hurricane Katrina to coronavirus, Celebration in the Oaks comes full circle," 23 Nov. 2020 The 4th Gen Echo Dot is really just a miniature version of the 4th Gen Echo. Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored, "The best smart speakers of 2020," 14 Dec. 2020 Officers found the man slumped over in the driver’s seat with a half-empty pint of Jack Daniel’s whiskey next to him along with an empty miniature bottle of Fireball Whiskey. Bruce Geiselman, cleveland, "Man accused of threatening Taco Bell employees: North Olmsted Police Blotter," 12 Dec. 2020 The movie employed radically flattened perspectives inspired by Persian miniature paintings. Mark O’connell, The New Yorker, "Cartoon Saloon and the New Golden Age of Animation," 11 Dec. 2020

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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Time Traveler for miniature

Time Traveler

The first known use of miniature was circa 1586

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Statistics for miniature

Last Updated

13 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Miniature.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/miniature. Accessed 24 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for miniature

miniature

noun
How to pronounce miniature (audio) How to pronounce miniature (audio)

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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