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

The capsule collection sets out to revive the brand's original style with twelve new silhouettes in updated designs that were inspired by past prints. Charlotte Chilton, Town & Country, "Coco Shop's Debut Collection Is the Only Thing You'll Need for Your Next Vacation," 9 Apr. 2019 Delicate black-and-white illustrations and silhouettes by Sarah Gibb hark back to traditional tellings of these tales, reminding us of their roots in the Black Forest. Meghan Cox Gurdon, WSJ, "Children’s Books: Tales Well Worth Repeating," 15 Feb. 2019 The sharp cut, usually teamed with short bangs, is often styled to create a helmet-like silhouette. refinery29.com, "Zendaya Wore L.A.'s Most Popular Haircut At The Met Gala," 8 May 2018 Brilliant and soft colors are layered, and striking patterns and playful silhouettes work together to create a dynamic display. Laura Mauk, San Francisco Chronicle, "Pattern and color come out to play at designer’s midcentury Oakland home," 13 Apr. 2018 Bravo to hairstylist James Pecis, who sectioned, tied, braided, and pinned the hair into spiky Mohawk-like shapes that nicely mimicked the textures and silhouettes of the clothes in the collection. Sophia Panych, Allure, "Paris Fashion Week Fall 2018: The Best Hair and Makeup Looks of the Season," 7 Mar. 2018 Whether someone is built like Arnold Schwarzenegger, LeBron James or Danny DeVito, getting married or performing at Severance Hall, clothes are cut and stitched for the individual's size and silhouette. Janet H. Cho, cleveland.com, "Balani Custom Clothiers expanding made-to-measure menswear in Cleveland," 18 Feb. 2018 Poses mimicking the arm-thrust-skyward silhouette of Alexander Hamilton that’s featured on the banner and is the show’s most iconic image. John Wilkens, sandiegouniontribune.com, "'Hamilton' opens sold-out run at San Diego Civic Theatre," 7 Jan. 2018 The average American woman wears a size 16 or 18, and the Barbie line now includes dolls that represent a larger silhouette. Brennan Kilbane, Allure, "Barbie's 60th Birthday Wish Was to Be More Inclusive. Now What?," 2 May 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

On it, Smith appears as a sort of New Wave Baudelaire, silhouetted and alone save for his guitar. Vogue, "“Friday I’m in Love”—A Valentine to Robert Smith as the Cure Is Inducted Into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame," 29 Mar. 2019 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

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

20 May 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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