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

Keep scrolling for more

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


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

Above the clipped vignette are just blocks of streaky gray and cool blue. Mark Jenkins, Washington Post, "In the galleries: Dickson Carroll puts fun and folly in form and function," 21 June 2019 The vignettes and characters shown during the crawl are the result of hours of research in the archives of the Indiana Historical Society, IUPUI and other local institutions, Nahmias said. Dana Hunsinger Benbow, Indianapolis Star, "Indy's first 'sports history bar crawl' coming Downtown," 18 June 2019 Penned as an homage and a farewell to her mother, the vignette ponders the release from suffering that death provides. Howard Reich,, "Reviews: Patricia Barber explores 'Higher' at Green Mill; premieres from Grant Park Orchestra," 16 June 2019 The play doesn’t root the vignettes firmly enough in Vie’s existence, and fails to give her own story a satisfying arc. Celia Wren, Washington Post, "No shoo-in success for two new plays about female artists," 12 June 2019 Out of the 18 vignettes that were based on a clinical emergency, the symptom checker correctly recommended the necessary urgent care in just seven of them. Cathleen O'grady, Ars Technica, "Eye doctors find that WebMD symptom checker was wrong more than half the time," 30 Oct. 2018 The gridwork iron base is sized just right to hold wine bottles (up to 77); the white marble top makes a classic setting for a home bar or a more typical table lamp and art vignette. Joanna Linberg, Sunset, "11 Double-Duty Furniture Pieces for Small Spaces," 22 Jan. 2018 In my favorite vignettes, the performers were all but invisible, their precision and athleticism (obvious in other sections) concealed beneath cloth and foam. Alexis Soloski, New York Times, "Review: Mummenschanz Offers Wonder, and a Grumpy Trash Bag," 10 July 2018 If the Dream House vignette didn’t tip you off, then the mountains of miniature cupcakes, suspended mid-air by a bouquet of balloons surely would: Barbie was turning 60, and in her usual fun-loving decadence, the celebration was no small affair. Zachary Weiss, Vogue, "Yara Shahidi Is a Barbie Girl: The Actress Celebrates the Doll’s 60th Anniversary," 12 Mar. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about vignette

Listen to Our Podcast about vignette

Dictionary Entries near vignette






Vignoles rail


Statistics for vignette

Last Updated

9 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vignette

The first known use of vignette was in 1611

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for vignette



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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on vignette

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


appealing forcibly to the mind or reason

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!