stip·​ple | \ˈsti-pəl \
stippled; stippling\ˈsti-​p(ə-​)liŋ \

Definition of stipple 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to engrave by means of dots and flicks

2a : to make by small short touches (as of paint or ink) that together produce an even or softly graded shadow

b : to apply (something, such as paint) by repeated small touches

3 : speckle, fleck



Definition of stipple (Entry 2 of 2)

: 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

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Other Words from stipple


stippler \ˈsti-​p(ə-​)lər \ noun

Examples of stipple in a Sentence


the sunlight falling through the lace curtain stippled her face

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Thailand’s Prime Minister is never far from doting courtiers in Bangkok’s 1920s Government House, a neo-Gothic building stippled with classical nudes and one particularly plump jade Buddha. Time, "Thailand’s Leader Promised to Restore Democracy. Instead He's Tightening His Grip," 21 June 2018 On the album, Mr. Evans and Mr. Smythe play a relatively faithful rendition of the classic tune’s stippled, rag-like melody, then disassemble and erupt it over the course of five subsequent tracks. Giovanni Russonello, New York Times, "Wynton Marsalis Provokes Again With Head-Scratching ‘Ever Fonky Lowdown’," 2 July 2018 Quick, stippled brush marks conjure a leafy tree, while loose strokes of color cut a roadway through the grasses to what appears to be an Indian burial mound on the horizon. Christopher Knight,, "Grafton Tyler Brown's California scenes at Pasadena museum's final show," 30 June 2018 The Sheriff's Office crime lab performed tests with Gasser's .40-caliber pistol to determine the maximum distance gun powder would travel from the gun, embedding into clothing or creating stippling on skin. Michelle Hunter,, "Prosecution, defense rest in Ronald Gasser murder trial," 25 Jan. 2018 The portrait of Grace is in the guise of Rudolph Valentino, sideburns persuasively stippled and breasts bound invisibly with gauze cloth. Arthur Lubow, New York Times, "Influenced by Her Children, Laurie Simmons Exits Her Comfort Zone," 27 Apr. 2018 The beans on Sando’s site look like gems in a jewelry case: crimson, violet, black, and gold; stippled, striped, and swirled. Junot Díaz, The New Yorker, "The Hunt for Mexico’s Heirloom Beans," 17 Apr. 2018 Cross-examination Under cross-examination by defense attorney Matthew Goetz, Troxclair testified that things such as clothing and other barriers like the ladder in Gasser's passenger seat, could affect the amount of stippling found on a body. Carlie Kollath Wells,, "Man killed in 7th Ward shooting, New Orleans police say," 26 Jan. 2018 Either use a contour palette or a matte concealer two shades lighter than your skin tone, and then begin applying it with a sponge or stippling brush to the high points of your face. Brooke Shunatona, Cosmopolitan, "How to Apply Highlighter Based on the Glow You Want," 20 Feb. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

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, "The Playlist: John Mayer Laments the Friend Zone, and 11 More New Songs," 11 May 2018 Pro Tip: To quickly cover dark circles, stipple (a.k.a. Amber Kallor, Marie Claire, "The Foundation Mistake Almost All Women Make," 28 Apr. 2017 A third left an entrance wound surrounded by gunpowder stipple at the base of his skull and an exit wound in his left cheek. John Branch, New York Times, "Behind Kevin Durant’s Jersey Number, a Cold-Blooded Murder," 7 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'stipple.' 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 stipple


circa 1762, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1837, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for stipple


Dutch stippelen to spot, dot

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Statistics for stipple

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Time Traveler for stipple

The first known use of stipple was circa 1762

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More Definitions for stipple



English Language Learners Definition of stipple

: to draw or paint small dots on (something)

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with stipple

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for stipple

Comments on stipple

What made you want to look up stipple? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to make faulty or ineffective

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