outline

1 of 2

noun

out·​line ˈau̇t-ˌlīn How to pronounce outline (audio)
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 faceWilla 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

outline

2 of 2

verb

outlined; outlining; outlines

transitive verb

1
: to draw the outline of
2
: to indicate the principal features or different parts of
outlined their responsibilities
Choose the Right Synonym for 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

Examples of outline in a Sentence

Noun The pictures were drawn in outline and then filled in with color. The leaves etched into the vase have a gold outline. Organize your essay by writing an outline in which you state your main idea followed by your supporting points. a brief outline of American history Her speech was written in outline on note cards. Verb The President outlined his agenda for the next term. The book outlines the major events of the country's history. All players must follow the rules outlined above. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
The outline of this legislation would include a limited number of licenses for on premise gambling with the requirement of the license holder to invest Billions of dollars. Harrison Mantas, Fort Worth Star-Telegram, 15 Feb. 2024 The outline of the QR code matches the logo for the art studio. Caitlyn Freeman, Baltimore Sun, 2 Feb. 2024 For anyone who has closely followed the sinuous cultural, legal, and scientific saga of LSD, the outlines of its story will not come as a revelation. Margaret Talbot, The New Yorker, 22 Jan. 2024 The outline of these tales is almost always the same. Owen Gleiberman, Variety, 21 Jan. 2024 But unlike with the impressions, which are essentially the outline of an animal pressed into stone, the researchers were able to assess the cross section of their most notable fossil and identify layers and detail that would’ve otherwise been unknowable. Popular Science, 11 Jan. 2024 To the west, the Mediterranean and the Israeli coastal city Netanya are just visible, and to the east, a faint outline of the mountains of Jordan. Roger Cohen, New York Times, 31 Jan. 2024 People of a certain age in Ireland remember the shocking outlines of a national scandal: the young American woman and the bishop, the hypocrisy of the clergyman, the baby born out of wedlock and without a present father, the woman’s notorious appearance on an Irish late night talk show. Noah Goldberg, Los Angeles Times, 29 Jan. 2024 The mock-up train car also contained outlines of surfboards on one side and mountains on the other, representing the landscape seen on a full journey of the high-speed train between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Patrick said. Randy Diamond, Sacramento Bee, 26 Jan. 2024
Verb
This article outlines a comprehensive methodology for incrementally and meaningfully integrating AI into products and processes. Nanthakumar Muthusamy, Forbes, 16 Feb. 2024 However, according to a letter from Interim DPW Director Richard Luna to Cumming, DPW’s human resources conducted an investigation and substantiated all claims outlined in the investigation report, although neither the synopsis nor Luna’s response specifies the extent of disciplinary action. Dillon Mullan, Baltimore Sun, 15 Feb. 2024 And just days later, the government released a document outlining strategic priorities that included the deployment of quantum cloud platforms and efforts to develop industrial applications for the technology. IEEE Spectrum, 14 Feb. 2024 Court documents made public Tuesday do not outline the relationship between Suady and the two sisters, 47-year-old Jessika Koehler and 44-year-old Janessa Russell. Bill Lukitsch, Kansas City Star, 14 Feb. 2024 The Georgia parole board acknowledged receiving the two separate letters from the D.O.J. outlining Cyrus’s contributions. Charles Bethea, The New Yorker, 13 Feb. 2024 This crucial document outlines the city’s strategy for accommodating its fair share of regional housing needs while fostering a balanced and sustainable community. Yan Zhao, The Mercury News, 11 Feb. 2024 Apartment buildings or communities with homeowner’s associations may have additional guidelines outlined in leases or HOA handbooks. Annie Midori Atherton, Washington Post, 6 Feb. 2024 Nearly three years after filing the lawsuit, COPA today had its first chance to outline its case against Wright at trial. Joel Khalili, WIRED, 5 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'outline.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

Noun

1662, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Verb

circa 1790, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of outline was in 1662

Dictionary Entries Near outline

Cite this Entry

“Outline.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/outline. Accessed 29 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

outline

1 of 2 noun
out·​line ˈau̇t-ˌlīn How to pronounce outline (audio)
1
: a line that traces or forms the outer limits of an object or figure and shows its shape
2
a
: a drawing or picture giving only the outlines of something
b
: this method of drawing
3
a
: a brief summary or plan often in numbered divisions
b
: a brief treatment of a subject
an outline of world history

outline

2 of 2 verb
1
: to draw or trace the outline of
2
: to indicate the main features or parts of
outlined our responsibilities

More from Merriam-Webster on outline

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!