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

Miniland, which is a feature of every LEGOLAND, re-creates cities, landmarks, and other attractions re-built in miniature entirely out of LEGO bricks. Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, "Everything You Need to Know About LEGOLAND New York, LEGO's Biggest Theme Park Yet," 9 Sep. 2019 The visual detail is astounding, from the puppets’ ornate hairstyles to an immersive backdrop of enchanted forests, imposing castles and cave cities constructed in miniature. Judy Berman, Time, "Carnival Row and The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance Vie to Be the Next Game of Thrones—But Neither One Comes Close," 26 Aug. 2019 Leroy Anderson, Calm Seas & Prosperous Journeys: Thursday, Sept. 5, 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. Leroy Anderson (1908-1975) was a master composer of popular orchestral miniatures. courant.com, "Community News For The Windsor Edition," 30 Aug. 2019 Amanda Leland/Renegade Mini Aussies Though the AKC distinguishes between Australian shepherds and mini American shepherds, standard, miniature, and toy Aussies are varieties of the same kind of dog, says Leland. Eliza Brooke, Vox, "Mini Australian shepherds are the dogs of the moment.," 29 July 2019 But due to some irresponsible breeders, many people get tricked into buying a pig without realizing there is no such thing as a mini-pig—all pigs, miniature or not, get big, and the majority of these animals end up in shelters or are euthanized. Liz Langley, National Geographic, "Pet pigs can communicate with humans—especially when food is involved," 11 July 2019 Pianist Hélène Grimaud performs miniatures by Chopin, Debussy, Satie and Silvestrov, concluding with Schumann. San Diego Union-Tribune, "La Jolla Music Society will celebrate 51st year with biggest season ever," 7 July 2019 Many of those tigers began their lives as coddled tourist draws - adorable miniatures of an exalted wild animal. oregonlive.com, "The trouble with tigers in America," 13 July 2019 The musical enacts, in miniature, the drama posed for Hungary by Turanism: whether to embrace the West, and the future, or the East, and the past. Jacob Mikanowski, Harper's magazine, "The Call of the Drums," 21 July 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The bizarre legal battle began last July when Musk had a team of SpaceX engineers construct a miniature submarine to help rescue kids stranded in a cave in Thailand. Timothy B. Lee, Ars Technica, "Musk spent $50,000 digging into critic’s personal life," 17 Sep. 2019 The controversy began when Unsworth described Musk's miniature submarine as a PR stunt. Jackie Wattles, CNN, "Elon Musk defends calling rescue worker a 'pedo'," 16 Sep. 2019 The miniature town was part of the location before Big Thunder Mountain Railroad was built. Advertorial, Orange County Register, "History & Heritage: Tipping Our Hat to the Wildest Ride in the Wilderness," 15 Sep. 2019 The procedure was quick, but my leg looked like a miniature shark had taken a bite out of it. As Told To Hannah Harper, Health.com, "This Influencer’s Birthmark Turned Out to Be Melanoma: 'I Could Feel It Growing'," 12 Sep. 2019 Ever since Nintendo debuted its NES Classic Edition, multiple video game companies have jumped on the nostalgia bandwagon with miniature consoles of their own. Brittany Vincent, Popular Mechanics, "Sega Genesis Mini Review: The Genesis of Excellent Miniature Consoles," 12 Sep. 2019 All classes and colors from miniature to tall bearded on site. oregonlive.com, "Homes and gardens events around Portland: Dahlia festival, iris sale and more," 23 Aug. 2019 From miniature to knee length, denim skirts are on trend for girls of all ages. Tyra Mcclung, courant.com, "Back to school in style: Here’s what’s trending this fall," 7 Aug. 2019 At the opposite end of the gallery, the installation continues in the form of a nook snugly fit with a cardboard box, outfitted like a miniature home with a rug and fake plant. Leah Ollman, latimes.com, "In Shinique Smith's 'Refuge,' bits of past make for a compelling present," 3 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

20 Sep 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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