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stip·​ple ˈsti-pəl How to pronounce stipple (audio)
stippled; stippling ˈsti-p(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce stipple (audio)

transitive verb

: to engrave by means of dots and flicks
: to make by small short touches (as of paint or ink) that together produce an even or softly graded shadow
: to apply (something, such as paint) by repeated small touches
stippler noun


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: production of gradation of light and shade in graphic art by stippling small points, larger dots, or longer strokes
also : an effect produced in this way

Examples of stipple in a Sentence

Verb the sunlight falling through the lace curtain stippled her face
Recent Examples on the Web
For best results, apply liquid foundation in dots and use this brush for a natural, soft-focus finish via stippling. Iman Balagam, Allure, 5 Aug. 2023 The white stippling bristles are fabulous for a natural finish, while the smaller buffing brush has soft, dense fibers in a slightly curved shape that pick up more product, but never too much. Angela Trakoshis, Allure, 25 July 2023 Though your plant may be sheltered from pests indoors, orchids can be infested by scale (insects appear to be circular bumps on stems), mites (tiny spider-like pests that cause stippling on leaves), or mealybugs (white, fluffy insects). Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 16 June 2023 Palm trees and cactuses stipple the town, and reddish buttes rise in the distance. Manohla Dargis, New York Times, 15 June 2023 Sephora recommends that the product is first warmed in the fingers before being tapped into place on the face, while Nars advises adding a stippling brush to blend it into wrinkles, scars, or large pores. Madison Yauger, Peoplemag, 13 June 2023 These are the kind that stipple our sidewalks — nascent trace fossils, records of fleeting contact. Jessica Leigh Hester, New York Times, 31 Jan. 2023 Spread over 13 square miles and supporting a population of around 2,500, it’s one of dozens of forested landfalls that stipple the Georgia Strait between the British Columbia mainland and Vancouver Island. Brendan Sainsbury, Condé Nast Traveler, 3 Jan. 2022 And so on a chilly February weeknight, Bedrick began by showing examples of low-cost products that can help with makeup basics, like a brow tint pen, eyeliner pot, contour palette, stipple sponge, and liquid black eyeliner. Alaina Demopoulos, Allure, 26 Apr. 2022
The black splotches were raised, like tiny hillocks, and covered in even tinier white stipples. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 13 Mar. 2023 That’s then coupled with the show’s old-school comic book influences like stipple in the texturing and a pen and ink style for the characters. Abbey White, The Hollywood Reporter, 18 Feb. 2023 Handcoloured stipple engraving by Moret after an illustration by Pierre-Joseph Redoute from Henri Louis Duhamel du Moncel's Treat des Arbres et Shrustes, Paris, 1804-1819. Emma Elwick-Bates, Vogue, 25 Jan. 2023 Stage three required more silicone cheeks, chin, neck, back of neck, lips and stretch and stipple to age around her eyes, forehead and furrow. Jazz Tangcay, Variety, 16 Mar. 2022 The surface of the lake, roused to a salt-and-pepper stipple by the rain, was devoid of sailboats or swimmers. John Bowe, Travel + Leisure, 5 June 2021 With the iron heated, carefully press the tip into the plastic of the handle repeatedly to cover it with stipples. Tyler Freel, Outdoor Life, 19 Nov. 2019 The 26-year-old tenor saxophonist has set most of these original compositions at a medium-fast tempo, and her saxophone stipples and scampers, gesturing toward the influence of the alto saxophonist Steve Lehman. New York Times, 11 May 2018 Pro Tip: To quickly cover dark circles, stipple (a.k.a. Amber Kallor, Marie Claire, 28 Apr. 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'stipple.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Dutch stippelen to spot, dot

First Known Use


circa 1762, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1837, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of stipple was circa 1762

Dictionary Entries Near stipple

Cite this Entry

“Stipple.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


stippled; stippling
: to apply (as paint or ink) by repeated small touches
stipple noun
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