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 That poignant sketch gives the reader not only this gently radiant book in miniature, but much of its author’s career. Boyd Tonkin, WSJ, "‘Stories With Pictures’ Review: Windows on Dreamland," 12 Mar. 2021 Once, a lack of opposition votes was a scandal in miniature. Alex Shephard, The New Republic, "No One’s Buying the Republicans’ Deficit Fearmongering Anymore," 22 Feb. 2021 But more than the planet or its rings, Cassini studied Saturn’s icy moons—essentially an entire planetary system in miniature, each new world a microcosm of unearthly geology. Lee Billings, Scientific American, "Cassini’s “Grand Finale” Will Be a Blaze of Glory," 14 Sep. 2017 The Mount Rushmore miniature stood 4 feet (1.3 meters) and depicted Trump alongside former presidents George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln. Stephen Groves, Star Tribune, "SD governor gave Trump bust with face on Mount Rushmore," 21 Jan. 2021 Bonsai is an artform that seeks to recreate a natural scene in miniature. Briana Miller, oregonlive, "Art shows a bit more intense and cerebral this winter in Portland," 12 Jan. 2021 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 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Ripping shingles, tar paper and timbers from the roofs of houses, uprooting trees and demoralizing traffic, a miniature tornado swept through the city at midnight last night. Merrie Monteagudo, San Diego Union-Tribune, "From the Archives: Tornados strike region 95 years ago," 6 Apr. 2021 Sometimes children drifted out the door, crawling beside dump trucks or steering shopping carts of plastic produce, and were surprised to find the mothers hiding, towering over miniature chairs. Clare Sestanovich, The New Yorker, "Separation," 5 Apr. 2021 The miniature enamel painting is so disciplined, so exquisite and so consigned. Paige Reddinger, Robb Report, "Horological Historian Nick Foulkes Literally Wrote the Book on the Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso," 3 Apr. 2021 Emanuel Admassu built a tabletop model of a particularly un-picturesque swath of Atlanta, then sprinkled it with black sand, turning it into a miniature American Pompeii. Justin Davidson, Curbed, "MoMA’s First Show on Race and Architecture Chooses Lofty Ideas Over Pragmatism," 2 Apr. 2021 The tradition goes way back: After the execution of King Charles I in 1649, his subjects covertly showed their loyalty by wearing miniature portraits of the monarch concealed in rings and pendants. Jill Newman, Town & Country, "How Royals from Queen Elizabeth I to Prince Charles Kept Secrets in Their Jewels," 2 Apr. 2021 Lining the tops of tap handles with miniature accordions also is a possibility, said Warger, who will be in a festive mood this year because Goldhorn will mark its fifth anniversary. Marc Bona, cleveland, "Goldhorn Brewery renaming part of I-90, crafting actual accordion glasses in unique promotions," 1 Apr. 2021 Craftspeople created Pallant House’s first model art gallery in 1934, when dealer Sydney Burney helped organize an exhibition of miniature art to raise money for charity, writes Caroline Goldstein for Artnet News. Isis Davis-marks, Smithsonian Magazine, "Dollhouse-Sized Exhibition Will Showcase Mini Creations by Art World Giants," 1 Apr. 2021 Media reports of the earlier handmade xenobots both reveled in and worried about the idea of miniature robots made from living matter. Quanta Magazine, "Cells Form Into ‘Xenobots’ On Their Own," 31 Mar. 2021

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

14 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Miniature.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/miniature. Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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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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