silhouette

noun
sil·​hou·​ette | \ ˌsi-lə-ˈwet \

Definition of silhouette

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a likeness cut from dark material and mounted on a light ground or one sketched in outline and solidly colored in
2 : the outline of a body viewed as circumscribing a mass the silhouette of a bird

silhouette

verb
silhouetted; silhouetting

Definition of silhouette (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to represent by a silhouette also : to project on a background like a silhouette

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from silhouette

Verb

silhouettist \ ˌsi-​lə-​ˈwe-​tist \ noun

Synonyms for silhouette

Synonyms: Noun

contour, figure, outline

Synonyms: Verb

define, delineate, outline, sketch, trace

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Choose the Right Synonym for silhouette

Noun

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

Did You Know?

Noun

Before the age of the photograph, the silhouette, either cut from paper or painted, was the most affordable portrait that could be made. The art enjoyed a golden age in the second half of the 18th and first half of the 19th centuries, when many people collected them. Although silhouettes were well-loved, the man for whom they were named was not: Étienne de Silhouette was France's finance minister under Louis XV and was notorious for both his frugality and his hobby of making cut-paper shadow portraits. The phrase à la Silhouette came to mean "on the cheap," and portraits like the ones he produced were (satirically) bestowed with his name as well.

Examples of silhouette in a Sentence

Noun

the silhouettes of buildings against the sky The buildings appeared in silhouette against the sky. My piano teacher has a framed silhouette of Mozart on her wall. a portrait of my mother done in silhouette He admired the sports car's sleek silhouette.

Verb

in the photograph the majestic mountain is strikingly silhouetted against the setting sun
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

However, many luxury and designer sofas with webbing are still expensive because of other factors, such as materials, silhouette, aesthetic, and more. Hadley Mendelsohn, House Beautiful, "Everything You Need to Know About 8-Way Hand-Tied Sofas," 5 Jan. 2019 Over the course of the tour, the Duchess has worn classic silhouettes (like yesterday's navy dress, topped with a trench coat) in neutral hues. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Wore a Striped Martin Grant Dress for a Walk on Bondi Beach in Sydney," 18 Oct. 2018 The Colombian designer is known for her soft silhouettes and bold, graphic floral prints, which suit this English rose perfectly. Roberta Gorin-paracka, Teen Vogue, "Lily Collins Wears Floral Elie Saab Gown at Art of Elysium's "Heaven" Gala," 6 Jan. 2019 Between the two royal brides, one thing is certain–each used their second dress as a less fussy, and more adventurous expression of their personal style, while insuring their silhouettes were sophisticated. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "All the Details of Eugenie's Second Wedding Dress–Compared to Meghan Markle's," 14 Oct. 2018 Voth created three monumental pieces in Morocco’s Marha Plain, including a complex of towers patterned after the Orion constellation, a setting that serves as a backdrop for the season’s sculptural looks and silhouettes. Kristina O’neill, WSJ, "WSJ. Magazine Editor’s Letter: Mind Over Matter," 13 Dec. 2018 At the step-and-repeat, both mother and daughter stunned in similar silhouettes. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Reese Witherspoon Had a Twinning Moment with Her Daughter Ava Phillippe at a Gala in L.A.," 22 Oct. 2018 Design, like fashion, is about color and texture and silhouette and scale. Lucia Tonelli, ELLE Decor, "The Original 'Queer Eye' Stars Reunite For TV's Most Stylish Home Makeover Show," 19 Oct. 2018 There were new silhouettes when compared with her first highly successful season, cut high on the leg. Fox News, "Rihanna surprises fans with Gigi and Bella Hadid in her Savage X Fenty runway show," 13 Sep. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Never has a shed looked more romantic, with a roaring fire which perfectly silhouettes the two lovers. Outlander Fan, Marie Claire, "5 Biggest Takeaways From 'Outlander' Season 4 Episode 8," 24 Dec. 2018 Léa, barefoot and dressed in a long dress, reaches up with one hand to pick a cluster of roses, her profile silhouetted against turbulent white clouds. Dodie Kazanjian, Vogue, "Painter Elizabeth Colomba Is Giving Art’s Hidden Figures Their Close-Up," 10 Oct. 2018 Also $17 each are the lip glosses, which, like the lipsticks, are topped with a cap covered in gold Mickey Mouse silhouettes. Marci Robin, Allure, "Dose of Colors' Brand-New Mickey Mouse Makeup Collection Is Already Selling Out," 13 Nov. 2018 HaxDogma also notes that there is no way William could have met Emily the next day, because another shot of Emily shows her silhouetted against the setting sun on the horizon. Meagan Fredette, refinery29.com, "This Westworld Theory Points Out A Major Connection To The Truman Show," 17 June 2018 In her stop-motion animation, Tynesha Foreman draws on the artistic styles of both Kara Walker and Lotte Reiniger to illustrate this sense of African American identity and division through black-and-white silhouetted shadow puppets. Annika Neklason, The Atlantic, "Animating the Atlantic Archives," 2 May 2018 Ariana has been refining her style as of late, choosing classic blacks in place of bubblegum pink, Old Hollywood silhouettes when reaching for a design in a more statement-making color, and choosing more grown-up styles than ever before. Alyssa Hardy, Teen Vogue, "Met Gala 2018: Ariana Grande Attends the Met Gala Wearing Vera Wang," 7 May 2018 All around is a head-clearing view over the great, still blue plate of the Inland Sea, islands upon islands silhouetted in the distance. Pico Iyer, WSJ, "Why Japan’s Art-Filled Archipelago Is Not to Be Missed," 24 Apr. 2018 Around the edges of the Bindery’s meeting roomwere photos of Larson, playing the cello, for one, and then, to me most striking, just sitting in a stately parlor of his house, surrounded by bentwood furniture silhouetted against the windows. Leah Garchik, San Francisco Chronicle, "Paying tribute to Norm Larson, Duke of the Haight-Ashbury," 5 Apr. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of silhouette

Noun

1783, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

1876, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for silhouette

Noun

French, from Étienne de Silhouette †1767 French controller general of finances; perhaps from his ephemeral tenure

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about silhouette

Share silhouette

Listen to Our Podcast about silhouette

Dictionary Entries near silhouette

Siletz

silex

silexite

silhouette

silic-

silica

silica aerogel

Statistics for silhouette

Last Updated

11 Feb 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for silhouette

The first known use of silhouette was in 1783

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for silhouette

silhouette

noun

English Language Learners Definition of silhouette

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a dark shape in front of a light background
: a picture of something showing it as a dark shape on a light background especially : such a picture showing a person's face from the side
: the shape or outline of something

silhouette

verb

English Language Learners Definition of silhouette (Entry 2 of 2)

: to make (someone or something) appear as a dark shape in front of a light background

silhouette

noun
sil·​hou·​ette | \ ˌsi-lə-ˈwet \

Kids Definition of silhouette

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : outline entry 1 sense 1 In the dim light, their faces were just silhouettes.
2 : a drawing, picture, or portrait of the outline of a person or object filled in with a solid usually black color

silhouette

verb
silhouetted; silhouetting

Kids Definition of silhouette (Entry 2 of 2)

: to represent by an outline : show against a light background An airplane was silhouetted against the sky.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on silhouette

What made you want to look up silhouette? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

the perfect form or example of something

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What did you just call me?! A Quiz

  • rows-of-various-emoji
  • If a member of the audience describes your speech as bombastic, does that person mean it is:
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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