vi·gnette | \vin-ˈyet, 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, 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

For Footloose Presents, Mary Alice Fry directs a series of vignettes about the City by the Bay. 7:30 p.m. Thurs. $20-50., "Theater capsule reviews and listings, week of June 24," 22 June 2018 In the upbeat vignette that follows, Johnston and Press portray animated dollmakers. Patti Restivo, Howard County Times, "In 'Making Advances,' a staged revolution," 14 June 2018 On the catwalk, models participated in themed vignettes on Olympian, space-age, and religious themes. Pat Cleveland, Vogue, "Pat Cleveland Remembers Being the Madonna in Thierry Mugler’s History-Making 1984 Show," 5 May 2018 The video initially displays vignettes of a happy love affair: Austin and a love interest sitting by the lake while carving initials into a park bench, at home making breakfast together, and cruising through the city in a convertible. Shanté Honeycutt, Billboard, "Austin Awake Reminisces on a Past Relationship in 'About You' Video: Premiere," 13 Apr. 2018 In vignettes, the evening moves forward from one character’s monologue to another, focusing next on Abby, Sierra’s frumpy, middle-aged super-fan, who hosts a late-night podcast delving into the anxieties that rob her of sleep. Jim Rutter,, "'I Will Not Go Gently' at People's Light: Jennifer Childs' indulgent look at an aging rock star," 26 Mar. 2018 The 150 life-sized animals will be posing in holiday vignettes dressed as kings, queens, knights and even a few dragons. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Santa, trains and holiday lights: 3 things to put on your winter calendar immediately," 25 Oct. 2017 More than taking the spirit of their famous Mona Lisa Instagram post and setting it to music, the clip connects the Louvre’s artwork to each of the couple’s looks to form a series of vignettes. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "With “Apeshit,” the Carters Deliver a Fashion-Forward Art History Lesson," 18 June 2018 Director Vanda Eggingtron, who also serves as musical director, has rounded up a capable cast to populate this high-voltage musical, adding cute downstage vignettes to cover the scenic transitions. Tom Titus,, "On Theater: ‘Seven Brothers’ kick up their heels at Vanguard University," 15 Feb. 2018

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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Dictionary Entries near vignette






Vignoles rail


Statistics for vignette

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for vignette

The first known use of vignette was in 1611

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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

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