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

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 Structured as a series of vignettes, the film orbits around the Roden Crater in the Arizona desert, where American artist James Turrell has been working on a visual project since 1977. Washington Post, "Kanye West finally releases ‘Jesus Is King.’ From the movie tie-in to Kenny G’s cameo, here’s what to know.," 25 Oct. 2019 The sections are constructed of scraps and vignettes, fragmentary pieces of memory that hop around the time line, following their own ordinal logic. Helen Rosner, The New Yorker, "“Burn the Place” Is a Thrilling, Disquieting Memoir of Addiction and Coming of Age," 15 Oct. 2019 The issue of perspective arises in each of the documentary’s vignettes, which refuse to sugarcoat the frustration and hopelessness wrought by (often permanent) visual impairment, and yet confront those issues with a measure of optimism and humor. Nick Schager,, "‘Vision Portraits’ review: A study of talented artists struggling with different levels of vision loss," 18 Sep. 2019 Anyone who has watched Mindhunter on Netflix knows that the show's first season was sprinkled with a series of perplexing vignettes that seemingly had nothing to do with the plot of the show. Heather Finn, Good Housekeeping, "Who Is the BTK Killer? What 'Mindhunter' Doesn’t Tell You About Dennis Rader," 30 Aug. 2019 The collection of vignettes in Ten Years includes one that imagines mandatory Mandarin language for Hong Kong residents, and a particularly poignant storyline where a Hong Kong resident self-immolates in protest. Isabella Steger, Quartzy, "Six films to watch to understand what’s happening in Hong Kong," 24 July 2019 But before Hu went any further in the vignette, another CHIPAO trainer stepped in to intervene and ask why Hu had reacted to her daughter’s cutting with such harsh words, and suggested instead gently probing about what had led up to the self-harm. Gwendolyn Wu,, "Theater becomes therapy to help South Bay Asian American parents understand their kids," 9 Aug. 2019 First, there’s the elliptical, puzzle-box nature of the plot, which is told in a series of disordered vignettes, heightening the story’s tension (and requiring a bit more concentration from the viewer). Travis M. Andrews, Washington Post, "The definitive ranking of Quentin Tarantino films, from worst to best," 30 July 2019 Strong material, excellent vocals, and high-quality dance vignettes, both solo and with a male partner. Jason Lipshutz, Billboard, "My Dad's Time-Traveling Take on Pitchfork Music Festival 2019," 22 July 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

Statistics for vignette

Last Updated

12 Nov 2019

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


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

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).


to engage in dissolute behavior

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Pass the Little Ribbons: A Pasta Word Quiz

  • rotelle pasta
  • Match the pasta to its meaning in English: Rotelle
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

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!