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

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Other Words from silhouette

Verb

silhouettist \ ˌsi-​lə-​ˈwe-​tist How to pronounce silhouettist (audio) \ 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

With the time of year being a little warmer and more summery, the Duchess of Sussex opted for a lighter look than Kate did today, wearing a stunning cream Givenchy dress with a high neckline and cape silhouette. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Kate Middleton and Meghan Markle's First Solo Appearances with the Queen, Compared," 19 Mar. 2019 The volcano was a silhouette on the horizon Tuesday, rumbling deeply almost every minute below rain-sodden skies. I Made Sentana, WSJ, "Indonesia Tsunami Death Toll Rises to 429 as Volcano Threat Remains," 25 Dec. 2018 The targets are silhouettes of other children, likely a reference to recent school shootings. Tamara Fuentes, Seventeen, "13 Hidden Easter Eggs in Miley Cyrus' New 'Nothing Breaks Like a Heart' Music Video That’ll Give You Chills," 30 Nov. 2018 The ad closed with the silhouette of a man on a grassy slope, staring the bear down. Sophie Pinkham, The New Republic, "Why have post-Soviet countries embraced populism and nostalgia?," 3 May 2018 The spring fashions at this shop feature fresh brilliant colors, dramatic silhouettes and innovative details like fluttering ruffles and bold inverted pleats and are all made in the U.S.A. J.Crew is also filling its racks with spring must-haves. chicagotribune.com, "Mark spring’s arrival with a trip to the square," 15 Apr. 2018 The shepherd was a still, dark silhouette against the vastness. Klara Glowczewska, Town & Country, "T&C Travel: Best of Morocco," 30 Mar. 2015 Expert tip: opt for botanical motifs in a mix of shapes, from blouson day dresses to silhouettes with a bit of sleek polish. Carrie Goldberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "The Ultimate Honeymoon Packing List," 25 Jan. 2019 Fashion houses are fusing traditional textiles and handmade H’mong embroidery to contemporary silhouettes. Peter Jon Lindberg, Condé Nast Traveler, "Hanoi, Time and Again," 20 Nov. 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.

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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

25 Mar 2019

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 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.

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