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

The latter was identified by Corriere as a scud — a white miniature pond resident that resembled a shrimp. Sue Ellen Ross, Post-Tribune, "Discovering what lives beneath the surface," 13 July 2018 The reaction to Johansson’s casting, and her response to it, represents in miniature the problems with that line of thinking. Karen Han, Vox, "Scarlett Johansson will play a transgender man, citing Jeffrey Tambor to defend the choice," 5 July 2018 Some types such as the miniature weeping selections with Louisiana names (Baton Rouge, Lafayette, New Orleans, etc.), also Natchez, Muskogee, Sioux, Tuscarora and Country Red have frozen repeatedly in North Texas winters. Neil Sperry, star-telegram, "The crape myrtle: Facts on the finest flowering shrub in the south," 21 June 2018 There are miniature magnets made by Kurokawa everywhere: a tiny green trash can for recycling pick up on the kitchen white board, a Baldor logo for ingredient drop-off, little cakes on the SunFire ovens, indicating what’s baking inside. Elyse Inamine, Bon Appetit, "The Mysterious World of Burrow, a Japanese Bakery Hiding In an Office Lobby," 13 June 2018 But the scoreboard at this miniature Allen Fieldhouse that doubles as a chicken coop shows KU winning 172-95. Pete Grathoff, kansascity, "KU fans made an Allen Fieldhouse chicken coop that manages to troll Mizzou," 11 June 2018 At her signal, a technician pricked a volunteer’s finger, then applied a transparent plastic implement shaped like a miniature rocket to the blood oozing from it. John Carreyrou, WIRED, "A New Look Inside Theranos’ Dysfunctional Corporate Culture," 21 May 2018 Those attracted to the lovely miniatures and over-the-top theme will have no problem buying into some chance cube chaos. Charlie Theel, Ars Technica, "Rum and Bones: Second Tide," 17 Mar. 2018 And poor Alton Niemeier in the miniature No. 1 Romeo Langford jersey. Gregg Doyel, Indianapolis Star, "Doyel: Romeo Langford picks Indiana over Kansas, Vanderbilt; a state rejoices," 30 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

An hour after the parade, nearly two dozen miniature cars took part in the competition, each with their own local sponsor and eye-catching paint job — tiger stripes, stars and bars, black flames. Brian Contreras, San Antonio Express-News, "Communities come together across San Antonio to celebrate the Fourth," 4 July 2018 Julia Barber, who posts daily on Petzbe on behalf of Lola, her miniature poodle, is a typical user of the free app. Anne Kadet, WSJ, "Warning: No Humans Allowed in This Virtual Community," 29 May 2018 His passions moved from floors filled with miniature cars to video games, an interest that lasted into adulthood. Tom Jackman, Washington Post, "Family and friends baffled: How did a fun-loving, gun-hating, sports-crazy Buddhist wind up shot by police?," 17 Jan. 2018 Also, there’s a miniature horse named Butterscotch. Mark Olsen, latimes.com, "Robert Pattinson and Mia Wasikowska revel in 'Damsel's' new take on the Old West," 27 June 2018 Feel free to bring your cat, dog, or miniature horse, but leave the hedgehogs, ferrets, insects, rodents, snakes, spiders, sugar gliders, birds, and reptiles at home. Katherine Lagrave, Condé Nast Traveler, "JetBlue Tightens Policy on Emotional Support Animals (But Still Allows Mini Horses)," 6 June 2018 From the Falabella miniature horse, to the tall British Shire. Bianca Britton, CNN, "Meet Big Jake and Thumbelina: The tallest and smallest horse in the world," 23 May 2018 Twice, people have reported their dog lost and then found within 24 hours; once, someone reported spotting a lost pair of miniature horses, also returned to their rightful owner within a day. Micah L. Sifry, The New Republic, "Escape From Facebookistan," 21 May 2018 More than a dozen dogs, a miniature horse and several other animals found living in squalor were rescued last week from a home in Ypsilanti Township. Ann Zaniewski, Detroit Free Press, "17 dogs, other animals found living in squalor in Ypsilanti Township," 23 Apr. 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

1 Nov 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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