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 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 Inside a lab there, about 15,000 mice per year scurried through what looked like moon bases in miniature. Nsikan Akpan, National Geographic, "A 'herd mentality' can’t stop the COVID-19 pandemic. Neither can a weak vaccine.," 2 Oct. 2020 To these, Goldberg recently added Christina Goodman’s pendant of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, hand-painted in miniature. Washington Post, "In the galleries: Studies in ‘anti-landscapes’ and seeing the unseen," 25 Sep. 2020 As its numerical suffix suggests, the Baby II isn't the first time that Bugatti has created a miniature. Mike Duff, Car and Driver, "Bugatti Baby II Plays with the Past," 1 Sep. 2020 Her Instagram photo series, #OurGreatIndoors, has inspired other homebound travel buffs to imagine vistas of their own in miniature. CBS News, "This week on "Sunday Morning" (June 14)," 11 June 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective And since the Dot family is basically a miniature version of the larger Echo, each sports a combination mesh and hard plastic shell. Jason Cipriani, CNN Underscored, "Amazon’s spherical Echo Dot lineup is as robust as it is cute," 18 Nov. 2020 The company plans to commemorate the event by honoring veterans and passing out free miniature American flags and samples from the chain’s private labels. Ron Hurtibise, sun-sentinel.com, "Winn Dixie will replace Earth Fare in Boynton Beach. Here’s the rundown on vacant groceries in South Florida.," 6 Nov. 2020 Long a favorite of the chic British set, Liberty print’s tiny, miniature flowers are blooming everywhere, from Gucci ballet shoes to Nike sneakers. Alexis Bennett, Vogue, "This Cheerful Print Is Everywhere All of a Sudden," 13 Oct. 2020 Kieran Wright is creating miniature versions of some city favorites. Julia Wick, Los Angeles Times, "Newsletter: Essential California: It’s not over till it’s over," 4 Nov. 2020 President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump played host Sunday to hundreds of superheroes, unicorns, skeletons and even a miniature version of themselves as part of a Halloween celebration at the White House. Ashley Shaffer, USA TODAY, "Hop in, we’re going to the moon 🌙," 26 Oct. 2020 Salt Lake City’s Greek Orthodox community will hold a miniature version of its annual festival on Saturday, Oct. 17 — selling traditional desserts to go. Alixel Cabrera, The Salt Lake Tribune, "Go Greek at new Taylorsville eatery or one-day pastry festival," 15 Oct. 2020 The features run the gamut, with details like infrared heat for safe and speedy drying, and there's one built with a miniature version of car engine. Alexis Rhiannon, Allure, "13 Best Blow-Dryer Deals to Shop During Amazon Prime Day," 14 Oct. 2020 Besides the new iPhones, Apple launched a new miniature version of its HomePod for managing electronics at home and playing music, starting at $99 and going on sale next month. NBC News, "iPhone 12: Apple announces newest smartphones — with 5G," 13 Oct. 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

20 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Miniature.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/miniature. Accessed 25 Nov. 2020.

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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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