How does the noun contour differ from other similar words?
Some common synonyms of contour are outline, profile, and silhouette. While all these words mean "the line that bounds and gives form to something," contour stresses the quality of an outline or a bounding surface as being smooth, jagged, curving, or sharply angled.
a car with flowing contours
In what contexts can outline take the place of contour?
The meanings of outline and contour largely overlap; however, outline applies to a line marking the outer limits or edges of a body or mass.
traced the outline of his hand
When might profile be a better fit than contour?
Although the words profile and contour have much in common, profile suggests a varied and sharply defined outline against a lighter background.
a portrait of her face in profile
Where would silhouette be a reasonable alternative to contour?
The words silhouette and contour are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, silhouette suggests a shape especially of a head or figure with all detail blacked out in shadow leaving only the outline clearly defined.