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

The piece, with a name that may or may not have anything to do with the film Inception, did strike a similar complexity, with multiple stories within a story, and a sweeping use of the stage that allowed for various vignettes to play out. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "It Was Ladies’ Night at the American Ballet Theatre Fall Gala," 18 Oct. 2018 An Instagrammable bathroom is reason enough to try a new restaurant, which is why the same images of the accent wall or the picture-perfect vignettes or the immersive installations keep recirculating. Diana Budds, Curbed, "Inside the maximalist, kaleidoscopic interiors of Verner Panton," 4 Sep. 2018 Yerba Buena Gardens Festival: Pi Clowns Original clown vignettes blending mime, theater, acrobatics, juggling, and improvisation., "Kids listings," 12 July 2018 But the platinum-selling group is also upping the ante on a musical level, using vignettes to help build a story into the show. Alan Sculley, kansascity, "Imagine Dragons: ‘Evolve’ show is ‘the most complicated production’ they’ve done," 11 July 2018 Among the many economic perversities of agricultural policy, this is merely a vignette. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "Pass the Cronyberry Sauce," 20 Nov. 2018 Stylized vignettes and kitschy architecture were everywhere along Route 66. Ashlea Halpern, Condé Nast Traveler, "Long Live Route 66," 19 July 2018 This first War Story vignette is set in Norway though, and Frostbite is certainly doing justice to the Aurora Borealis. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "Microsoft Xbox's E3 reveals: Halo Infinite, Cyberpunk 2077, Gears 5, and 18 exclusives," 10 June 2018 These creepy-crawlies are a classic for Halloween. Thread them along your porch rail or your mantel, and pair with an eerie wreath for a simply spooky vignette. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Halloween String Lights Are the Spooky Decoration You Never Knew You Needed," 29 Aug. 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

10 Dec 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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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).


the figure or shape of a crescent moon

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