1

outline

noun out·line \ ˈau̇t-ˌlīn \

Definition of outline

1 a :a line that marks the outer limits of an object or figure :boundary
  • the jagged outline of the mountains
b :shape
  • the sharpening outline of her face
  • —Willa Cather
2 a :a style of drawing in which contours are marked without shading
  • drew a dog in outline
b :a sketch in outline
  • prepared several outlines of the suggested mural
3 a :a condensed treatment of a particular subject
  • an outline of world history
b :a summary of a written work :synopsis
  • Students were required to give an outline for each assigned paper.
4 :a preliminary account of a project :plan
  • gave the class an outline of the points he intended to cover
5 :a fishing line set out overnight

Examples of outline in a Sentence

  1. The pictures were drawn in outline and then filled in with color.

  2. The leaves etched into the vase have a gold outline.

  3. Organize your essay by writing an outline in which you state your main idea followed by your supporting points.

  4. a brief outline of American history

  5. Her speech was written in outline on note cards.

Recent Examples of outline from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'outline.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of outline

1662

Synonym Discussion of outline

outline, contour, profile, silhouette mean the line that bounds and gives form to something. outline applies to a line marking the outer limits or edges of a body or mass.
    • traced the outline of his hand
contour stresses the quality of an outline or a bounding surface as being smooth, jagged, curving, or sharply angled.
    • a car with flowing contours
profile suggests a varied and sharply defined outline against a lighter background.
    • a portrait of her face in profile
silhouette suggests a shape especially of a head or figure with all detail blacked out in shadow leaving only the outline clearly defined.
    • photograph in silhouette against a bright sky

2

outline

verb

Definition of outline

transitive verb
1 :to draw the outline of
2 :to indicate the principal features or different parts of
  • outlined their responsibilities

Examples of outline in a Sentence

  1. The President outlined his agenda for the next term.

  2. The book outlines the major events of the country's history.

  3. All players must follow the rules outlined above.

Recent Examples of outline from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'outline.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of outline

circa 1790


OUTLINE Defined for English Language Learners

outline

noun

Definition of outline for English Language Learners

  • : a drawing or picture that shows only the shape of an object

  • : a style of drawing in which only the outer edges of an object are shown

  • : a line that is drawn around the edges of something


outline

verb

Definition of outline for English Language Learners

  • : to draw a line around the edges of (something)

  • : to list or describe only the most important parts of (an essay, speech, plan, etc.) : to give an outline of (something)


OUTLINE Defined for Kids

1

outline

noun out·line \ ˈau̇t-ˌlīn \

Definition of outline for Students

1 :a line that traces or forms the outer limits of an object or figure and shows its shape
2 :a drawing or picture or style of drawing in which only the outer edges of an object or figure are shown
  • outlines of animals
3 :an often numbered or lettered list of the important parts of something (as an essay)
4 :a short treatment of a subject
  • an outline of world history

2

outline

verb

Definition of outline for Students

outlined; outlining
1 :to draw or trace the outer edges of
  • Outline the circle in gold.
2 :to list or describe the main features or parts of
  • … Mother went on outlining her plans for the storeroom.
  • —Robert Lawson, Rabbit Hill


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