silhouette

noun
sil·​hou·​ette | \ ˌsi-lə-ˈwet How to pronounce silhouette (audio) \

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 How to pronounce silhouette (audio) \ noun

Synonyms for silhouette

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Verb

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 The timeless silhouette has a removable and elegant strap that can be adjusted to be worn as a clutch, shoulder bag, or crossbody bag. Rachel Besser, Vogue, "15 New Arrivals to Get Excited About This Week," 5 May 2021 The sleek silhouette was breathtaking: A long clamshell hood that appeared to go on indefinitely. Morgan Korn, ABC News, "German automakers rule the US luxury market. Genesis is determined to change that," 1 May 2021 Most often incorporating a relatively low heel, the silhouette essentially offers an elevated way to employ the ease of a flip-flop. Jamila Stewart, Essence, "7 Shoe Trends To Keep Your Eye On For Spring 2021," 27 Apr. 2021 Human engineers decided on the rough silhouette of the structure as well as their design priorities—user experience and sustainability—then handed the concept over to A.I. to generate hundreds of viable mock-ups. Ryan P. Smith, Smithsonian Magazine, "What If Humans and Artificial Intelligence Teamed Up to Build Better Communities?," 22 Apr. 2021 The bags featured from Gucci's Beloved lines are the Dionysus, GG Marmont, Gucci Horsbit 1955, and the Jackie 1961 silhouette that went viral last year. Shelby Ying Hyde, Harper's BAZAAR, "Gucci Taps Serena Williams, Harry Styles, Diane Keaton and More for a Talk Show-Inspired Campaign," 22 Apr. 2021 Ines by Ines Di Santo enhanced the silhouette with luxe floral satin jacquard. New York Times, "Brides Still Want Their Dresses and Designers Are Designing," 22 Apr. 2021 The look is a riff off compressive spandex pro bibs (the onesies professional cyclists wear on long-distance rides), making this silhouette super practical for working out. Talia Abbas, Glamour, "The 36 Best Women’s Bike Shorts to Wear All Summer Long," 20 Apr. 2021 And sequined suits emblazoned with the names of both houses cut in the hourglass silhouette that Gvasalia has become known for. Shannon Carlin, refinery29.com, "Gucci & Balenciaga Teamed Up On The Runway — But Don’t Call It A Collaboration," 15 Apr. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb People are silhouetted in a window of an apartment building in Hollywood, where a stay-at-home order remains in effect to help curb the spread of the coronavirus. Los Angeles Times, "6 Bay Area counties extend stay-at-home orders through May," 27 Apr. 2020 Amalia is constantly calling out to the family’s late Tia Carmen (musician Maria Sandoval-Moreno), who stands silhouetted in a second-floor window wearing a death mask and plucking a violin. Manuel Mendoza, Dallas News, "‘American Mariachi’ tells the story of family and friendship through formation of a 1970s all-female band," 26 Mar. 2020 The outlines of the pillars appear to be very delicate, as they are silhouetted against an eerie blue haze in deep space. Fox News, "NASA reveals Eagle Nebula’s ‘Pillars of Creation’ in beautiful image," 8 Apr. 2020 The duck crossed a slight rise, 40 yards away, silhouetted for a quick moment like a mule deer making a break over a ridgeline. T. Edward Nickens, Field & Stream, "A D.I.Y. Duck Hunt on Public Land in New Mexico," 10 Mar. 2020 The first segment depicts the climbers checking their equipment by headlamp before the camera pans to the rising sun silhouetting the ridge line ahead. Niha Masih, Washington Post, "Eight climbers died in the Himalayas. This GoPro footage shows the last video of them still alive.," 9 July 2019 The trees are dark, almost silhouetted, and set off against bright skies that occasionally look juice-filled—red or lemon-colored. Zachary Fine, The New York Review of Books, "Swampland Sublime: The Landscapes of Louisiana," 8 Feb. 2020 Prince Harry and Meghan Markle released a Christmas card in 2018 which showed them at their wedding reception, silhouetted against fireworks. Madeleine Carlisle, Time, "Royal Baby Archie Gets His Close-Up In Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's 2019 Christmas Card," 24 Dec. 2019 This is certainly true of another of his award-winning shots, which shows a racehorse silhouetted against a stunning mackerel sky. Ben Church, CNN, "Stunning images from horse racing's photographer of the year," 5 Dec. 2019

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

Time Traveler for silhouette

Time Traveler

The first known use of silhouette was in 1783

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about silhouette

Statistics for silhouette

Last Updated

10 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Silhouette.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/silhouette. Accessed 10 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

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 How to pronounce silhouette (audio) \

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

Test Your Vocabulary

Star Wars Words Quiz

  • cu jedi training
  • The bounty portion of bounty hunters (such as Boba Fett) comes from a Latin word meaning
Name That Thing

Test your visual vocabulary with our 10-question challenge!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

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!