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vi·​gnette vin-ˈyet How to pronounce vignette (audio)
: a picture (such as an engraving or photograph) that shades off gradually into the surrounding paper
: the pictorial part of a postage stamp design as distinguished from the frame and lettering
: a short descriptive literary sketch
: a brief incident or scene (as in a play or movie)
: 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
vignettist noun


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vignetted; vignetting

transitive verb

: to finish (something, such as a photograph) like a vignette
: to describe briefly
vignetter noun

Did you know?

The Connection Between Vignette and Vines

Vignette comes from the Middle French noun vigne, meaning "vine." In English, the word was first used in the early 17th 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 vignette began being used for a brief literary sketch or narrative.

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
Tie pinecones and evergreen clippings around glass jars with twine to turn kitchen countertops into a festive vignette. 20 of 32 Traditional Holiday Wreath Fashion a wreath from assorted greenery, holly berries, and pinecones for a classic holiday decoration. Kaylei Fear, Better Homes & Gardens, 16 Nov. 2023 The venue’s nightly programme night starts after 9 p.m. with the first act of Belle de Nuit, or Beauty of the Night, made up of four vignettes, followed by a DJ interlude, then a second act with another four scenes and DJ break. Melinda Sheckells, Variety, 3 Nov. 2023 Shot in Bangkok, the clip shows a series of vignettes of couples around the city sharing tender moments, as Sivan breaks out his best choreography for the song’s chorus. Stephen Daw, Billboard, 20 Sep. 2023 That bond is in stark contrast to vignettes about Jagger and Richards teasing Jones. David Browne, Rolling Stone, 4 Nov. 2023 Lines formed around the block during Milan Design Week in April for the cinematic vignettes created by Dimore Studio, the design firm known for its layered interiors, which cleverly incorporate historical references. Caitie Kelly Wei Tchou Julia Halperin Tom Delavan Lane Nieset Gage Daughdrill, New York Times, 2 Nov. 2023 The exhibit of videos and life-size diorama-like vignettes was inspired by 150 years of Parisian retail catalogs. The San Diego Union-Tribune Staff, San Diego Union-Tribune, 25 Oct. 2023 Soon after, in lieu of an account of his trip to Lagos, Cole presents twenty-four vignettes of life in the city, one for each hour in the day. Julian Lucas, The New Yorker, 9 Oct. 2023 That’s a defining aspect of her identity, and yet, these vignettes are clumsily staged and unconvincingly acted. Peter Debruge, Variety, 16 Sep. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'vignette.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



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

First Known Use


1611, in the meaning defined at sense 3


1853, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of vignette was in 1611


Dictionary Entries Near vignette

Cite this Entry

“Vignette.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a brief description in words : sketch

More from Merriam-Webster on vignette

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