vi·​gnette | \ vin-ˈyet How to pronounce vignette (audio) , vēn- \

Definition of vignette

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a picture (such as an engraving or photograph) that shades off gradually into the surrounding paper
b : the pictorial part of a postage stamp design as distinguished from the frame and lettering
2a : a short descriptive literary sketch
b : a brief incident or scene (as in a play or movie)
3 : a running ornament (as of vine leaves, tendrils, and grapes) put on or just before a title page or at the beginning or end of a chapter also : a small decorative design or picture so placed


vignetted; vignetting

Definition of vignette (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to finish (something, such as a photograph) like a vignette
2 : to describe briefly

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Other Words from vignette


vignettist \ vin-​ˈye-​tist How to pronounce vignettist (audio) , vēn-​ \ noun


vignetter noun

The Connection Between Vignette and Vines


Vignette comes from Middle French vignete, the diminutive form of the noun vigne, meaning "vine." In English, the word was first used in the mid-18th century for a design or illustration that ran along the blank border of a page, or one that marked the beginning or end of a chapter. Such designs got their name because they often looked like little vines. It wasn't until the late 19th century that usage of vignette had shifted to cover a brief literary sketch or narrative, as we commonly see it used today.

Examples of vignette in a Sentence

Noun The play's program features a little vignette about each member of the cast. The film is a series of vignettes about living with cancer.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Derived from Sally Benson’s bestseller, the story is situated in St. Louis over the course of a year and is divided into four vignettes starting in the summer of 1903 and concluding in the spring of 1904. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, "Home theater: Escape into the joyous world of musicals," 22 Apr. 2020 Fiona Apple’s entrapment vignettes and The Weeknd’s paranoid parties, for example, clearly suit a moment they weren’t actually created for. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, "How the Mountain Goats Accidentally Made the Ultimate Social-Isolation Album," 2 May 2020 In a very relatable vignette of email hell, CNN's Donie O'Sullivan reports that one Democratic senator's aide tried multiple times in January to check on the glitchy app that would ultimately mar the Iowa caucuses. Stephen Collinson, CNN, "Does Iowa's botched vote reporting really matter?," 5 Feb. 2020 Some of the profiles dwell on the workaday minutiae of military life; some contain vignettes of combat more brutal than any before published by an American novelist. Richard Snow, WSJ, "Five Best: Richard Snow on Lesser-Known Novels of World War I," 17 Jan. 2020 Gomez released her new ballad last night at midnight, with a black-and-white music video that featured close-up vignettes of the pop star singing her lyrics. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "Is Selena Gomez's New Song, "Lose You to Love Me," About Justin Bieber?," 23 Oct. 2019 Campbell’s new work is a collection of colorful historical vignettes of Frog Hollow, the Hartford neighborhood just west of the State Capitol., "Community News For The West Hartford Edition," 30 Sep. 2019 The plays, directed by Neil Pepe, kicked off with hillbilly brothers of Appalachia attempting and then failing to mask a violent crime before moving onto the following vignettes of American life. Alexandra Del Rosario, The Hollywood Reporter, "Brad Pitt, Ali Wong, John Goodman Among Stars at Premiere of Ethan Coen's 'A Play Is a Poem'," 22 Sep. 2019 Yet the game's bright vignettes all hide darker stories behind them—true stories of real-life tragedies brought to life in unexpected ways. Kyle Orland And Sarah Leboeuf, Ars Technica, "The Ars 13: Our top indie game picks from PAX East 2020," 7 Mar. 2020

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


1611, in the meaning defined at sense 3


1853, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vignette


French, from Middle French vignete, from diminutive of vigne vine — more at vine entry 1

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Time Traveler for vignette

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The first known use of vignette was in 1611

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Last Updated

10 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Vignette.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for vignette


How to pronounce vignette (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of vignette

: a short written description
: a short scene in a movie or play
: a picture or engraving in a book

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