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

Synonyms: Verb

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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 American fashion house, known for its luxury fabrics and sleek silhouettes is continuing to push the envelope forward by challenging over 60 years of its classics designs by bringing on a new creative director. Nandi Howard, Essence, "Luxury Retailer St. Johns Relaunches With A Bold Capsule Collection Under A New Creative Director," 14 Nov. 2019 For her various appearances this year, Middleton has regularly worn chunky block heels, a sturdy silhouette that’s a more arch-friendly alternative to her beloved pin-thin stilettos. Vogue, "Kate Middleton’s Comfortable Pumps Are the Perfect Work Shoe," 12 Nov. 2019 As Mercury’s silhouette graced the morning sun, SpaceX launched 60 small satellites for global internet service, part of the company’s growing Starlink constellation in orbit. Washington Post, "Mini Mercury skips across sun’s vast glare in rare transit," 11 Nov. 2019 With the assistance of binoculars, viewers can see a slight silhouette with silver and gold hues reflecting off the station's solar panel source. Brandon Killman, CNN, "To watch the International Space Station go by, all you need is clear skies and the schedule," 1 Nov. 2019 Guinness World Record-holding silhouette artist Cindi Rose and her husband, plastic surgeon Dr. Franklin Rose, were in attendance, too. Amber Elliott, Houston Chronicle, "Actor Paul Giamatti, mayoral candidate Tony Buzbee join Houstonians at Denali Foundation gala in NYC," 30 Oct. 2019 Cutouts around the bust line, crystal straps and embellishments, and a sheath silhouette added an alluring effect to an already sophisticated gown. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "Rosie Hungtinton-Whiteley Evokes Old Hollywood Glamour in a Crystal Cut-Out Dress," 30 Oct. 2019 Boswell saw a lone silhouette standing underneath the awning of Mississippi State’s Davis Wade Stadium, and a sense of relief washed over him. Luis Torres, orlandosentinel.com, "FSU star Cam Akers has history of carrying his teams when they need it most," 30 Oct. 2019 But unlike most down jackets, which can be reminiscent of the Michelin Man (someone had to say it), Orolay's jacket has a sleek silhouette that's versatile enough to be worn anytime, anywhere. Kelsey Mulvey, Marie Claire, "Amazon's Viral Orolay Winter Coat Is Back and On Sale," 21 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Despite the daunting crowds outside, the temples look sublime silhouetted against the rising sun and pink-orange sky. Kareena Gianani, National Geographic, "Explore Cambodia’s ancient stone city," 10 Sep. 2019 The Baltimore painter slyly frames open sky with small aspects of the scene, whether the notch in a rock shoreline or silhouetted wires and cables. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "In the galleries: Dickson Carroll puts fun and folly in form and function," 21 June 2019 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

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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Statistics for silhouette

Last Updated

18 Nov 2019

Time Traveler for silhouette

The first known use of silhouette was in 1783

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More Definitions for silhouette

silhouette

noun
How to pronounce silhouette (audio)

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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