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Synonym Chooser

How does the noun outline differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of outline are contour, profile, and silhouette. While all these words mean "the line that bounds and gives form to something," outline applies to a line marking the outer limits or edges of a body or mass.

traced the outline of his hand

When might contour be a better fit than outline?

The meanings of contour and outline largely overlap; however, contour stresses the quality of an outline or a bounding surface as being smooth, jagged, curving, or sharply angled.

a car with flowing contours

When can profile be used instead of outline?

In some situations, the words profile and outline are roughly equivalent. However, profile suggests a varied and sharply defined outline against a lighter background.

a portrait of her face in profile

When is it sensible to use silhouette instead of outline?

The synonyms silhouette and outline are sometimes interchangeable, but silhouette suggests a shape especially of a head or figure with all detail blacked out in shadow leaving only the outline clearly defined.

photograph in silhouette against a bright sky

Thesaurus Entries Near outline

Cite this Entry

“Outline.” Merriam-Webster.com Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/thesaurus/outline. Accessed 24 Sep. 2023.

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