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

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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

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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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Now, artists are coming to us asking to brainstorm styles, trends and silhouettes. Billboard Staff, Billboard, "48 Music Biz Jobs of Tomorrow -- And How to Get Them," 28 June 2018 No silhouettes can claim a similarly uncanny accomplishment; these shadows never eclipse the real. Edward Rothstein, WSJ, "‘Black Out: Silhouettes Then and Now’ Review: Tracing the Shadows of Past and Present," 13 June 2018 There’s no way to pack it away without the creating the sort of silhouette-ruining bulge that would make an Aston Martin designer stick a clay modeling scalpel in their eye. Alex Davies, WIRED, "Unfold the Complex Engineering of Aston Martin's Super Swanky Convertible," 9 May 2018 In the initial incident, G.M. was wearing a shirt from a local gun store, Spark Black Rifle, which depicted the store’s logo of a rifle and handgun silhouette, according to the report. Alexandra Deabler, Fox News, "Pro-gun student sues school over dress code, claims it violates First Amendment rights," 26 Apr. 2018 The North Light Court was swathed in dalmatian-print fabric, with tables topped by animal silhouettes and red fire hydrants. Catherine Bigelow, San Francisco Chronicle, "San Francisco SPCA raises the woof (and $1.8 million) at 150th anniversary gala," 23 Apr. 2018 For the day’s activities, both women stuck with heavily relied-upon fashion labels in two disparate (but still classic) silhouettes. Edward Barsamian, Vogue, "In Belgium, Brigitte Macron and Melania Trump Are Style Opposites—But With a Similar Message," 11 July 2018 The little black dress held slight resemblance to her custom Givenchy wedding gown with its bateau neckline and fit-and-flared silhouette. Chrissy Rutherford, Harper's BAZAAR, "Meghan Markle's Trusted Friend/ Stylist Advised on Her Ireland Wardrobe," 11 July 2018 And the lighting, also by Mr. Taylor, makes the space and performers even more thrilling, sometimes with effects of shadow and silhouette. New York Times, "Review: Pam Tanowitz’s ‘Four Quartets’ Hits Poetic Heights," 8 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

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 Gemini opens with an upside-down image of palm trees, silhouetted against the L.A. night sky and hanging from the top of the frame like portentous, spindly bats. David Sims, The Atlantic, "Gemini Is a Low-Key L.A. Murder Mystery," 30 Mar. 2018 People with disabilities and advocates for disability rights have been particularly chagrined by one image making the rounds on social media: an upright man silhouetted against a backdrop of stars, with an empty wheelchair in the foreground. Jessica Roy, latimes.com, "Erasing Stephen Hawking's disability erases an important part of who he was," 16 Mar. 2018 Everyone scrambles around in the sweeping wedges of brightness, silhouetted against the dark. Bronwen Dickey, Popular Mechanics, "The Lost Kids on the Line," 14 Mar. 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.

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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

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Dictionary Entries near silhouette

Siletz

silex

silexite

silhouette

silic-

silica

silica aerogel

Statistics for silhouette

Last Updated

9 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for silhouette

The first known use of silhouette was in 1783

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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.

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