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

Shoulders were noticeably larger and silhouettes were fuller, with plenty of ease. Roxanne Robinson, The Hollywood Reporter, "Darren Criss Performs at Glittery Balmain Spring Men's Show in Paris," 23 June 2019 Instead of silhouettes of leaf shapes, this guide has floor plans. Alexandra Lange, Curbed, "Virginia McAlester Is the Most Popular Architecture Writer in America," 6 June 2019 Throughout the night, there is an exodus from south to north, a procession of silhouettes crossing the 610-foot Duck Bridge on foot. Nathaniel Penn, Popular Mechanics, "The Day the Town Blew Up," 3 June 2019 Bentley also released a second teaser, a line drawing of the car's silhouette. Daniel Golson, Car and Driver, "2020 Bentley Flying Spur Teased Again with New 3D Quilted Leather Technique," 16 May 2019 Mermaid silhouettes aren't the only shape that evokes the subtle ease and effortlessness of a life down under. Christian Oth, Harper's BAZAAR, "17 Non-Traditional Gowns For the Renegade Bride," 1 Nov. 2018 The movement of cloud silhouettes scudding across the floor of a distant valley tracks the cumulus shapes racing across the dome of sky. Guy Trebay, Condé Nast Traveler, "In the Heart of Navajo Lands," 19 Oct. 2018 The clothes are easy to wear, the silhouettes are flattering but never restrictive, and the prints and palettes are always happy. Alexandra Ilyashov, Glamour, "How Ganni Came to Dictate Everything You Want to Wear Right Now," 10 Oct. 2018 The silhouettes were urbane, with an arts and crafts edge. Vanessa Friedman, New York Times, "The Elephant in the Dressing Room," 2 Mar. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

The mountains rose sharp and blue, silhouetted above what looked like a heavy, dense gray fog. Alli Harvey, Anchorage Daily News, "As Alaska burns, acts of caring — for yourself, and for others — might save your sanity," 11 July 2019 Many telescopes, in space and on the ground, are staring at the heavens in search of exoplanets silhouetted against the bright faces of their stars. Simon J. Lock, Scientific American, "When Earth and the Moon Were One," 2 July 2019 Prosek’s silhouetted wall murals are inspired by Old Lyme naturalist Roger Tory Peterson, who wrote field guides to identify animals. Susan Dunne, courant.com, "Insects swarm over Flo-Gris as part of ’Fragile Earth’ exhibit," 6 June 2019 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

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

15 Jul 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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