con·​trast | \ kən-ˈtrast How to pronounce contrast (audio) , ˈkän-ˌtrast How to pronounce contrast (audio) \
contrasted; contrasting; contrasts

Definition of contrast

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

: to set off in contrast : compare or appraise in respect to differences Contrast European and American manners. Contrast the two major characters of the novel. often used with to or with contrasting the painter with her contemporaries

intransitive verb

: to form a contrast


con·​trast | \ ˈkän-ˌtrast How to pronounce contrast (audio) \

Definition of contrast (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : juxtaposition of dissimilar elements (such as color, tone, or emotion) in a work of art
b : degree of difference between the lightest and darkest parts of a picture
2a : the difference or degree of difference between things having similar or comparable natures the contrast between the two forms of government
b : comparison of similar objects to set off their dissimilar qualities By contrast with newer models, the computer operates slowly. : the state of being so compared In contrast to the other estimates, his was very high.
3 : a person or thing that exhibits differences when compared with another The gentle girl is a contrast to the arrogant woman.

Other Words from contrast


contrastable \ kən-​ˈtra-​stə-​bəl How to pronounce contrast (audio) , ˈkän-​ˌtra-​ \ adjective
contrastingly \ kən-​ˈtra-​stiŋ-​lē How to pronounce contrast (audio) , ˈkän-​ˌtra-​ \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for contrast


compare, contrast, collate mean to set side by side in order to show differences and likenesses. compare implies an aim of showing relative values or excellences by bringing out characteristic qualities whether similar or divergent. compared the convention facilities of the two cities contrast implies an emphasis on differences. contrasted the computerized system with the old filing cards collate implies minute and critical inspection in order to note points of agreement or divergence. data from districts around the country will be collated

Examples of contrast in a Sentence

Verb Her black dress and the white background contrast sharply. We compared and contrasted the two characters of the story. Noun I observed an interesting contrast in the teaching styles of the two women. Careful contrast of the twins shows some differences. In contrast to last year's profits, the company is not doing very well. The queen's wit and humor made the prince seem dull by contrast. They spent millions of dollars on advertising. By way of contrast, our small company spent under 5,000 dollars. See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The study's findings appear to contrast with existing documents detailing delicious spreads included in bountiful feasts, but those may have been rare events. Ashley Strickland, CNN, 7 May 2022 The easiest way to start a review of Alice Oseman’s Netflix series Heartstopper would be to contrast it with Sam Levinson’s HBO sensation Euphoria. Lovia Gyarkye, The Hollywood Reporter, 21 Apr. 2022 Outside of empty braggadocio, meant to contrast himself with Trump, Biden has done little to uphold his promise of deterring Russian expansion. David Harsanyi, National Review, 22 Feb. 2022 Use it to top off a creamy coordinating set or contrast a pair of medium-rinse jeans. Halie Lesavage, Harper's BAZAAR, 22 Apr. 2022 Consider matte finishes that complement and contrast shiny tile, hardware, and trim to create a cohesive design. Kathleen Armentrout, Better Homes & Gardens, 15 Apr. 2022 Those scenes play very sweet and lighthearted to contrast the rest of the arc, when things don't necessarily go that way. Sydney Bucksbaum,, 14 Apr. 2022 Faderman also took special care to contrast the way in which women were characterized and treated among both White colonizers and the Indigenous communities that were already in America. San Diego Union-Tribune, 10 Apr. 2022 The lawsuit attempts to contrast the Cardinals’ treatment of Wilks, who was fired after going 3-13 in 2018, with that of general manager Steve Keim, who was arrested for driving under the influence that summer but retained his job. Tom Schad, USA TODAY, 7 Apr. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun By contrast, support for these ideas does not rise to more than half among Americans overall. Jennifer De Pinto, Fred Backus, CBS News, 9 May 2022 By contrast, these select rural locales are drawing newcomers in search of mountains, lakes or other outdoor attractions, a moderate climate and a vibrant tourist trade that helps keep taxes low. Aaron Zitner, WSJ, 8 May 2022 By contrast, Arizona cities currently pay less than $200 for an acre-foot of Colorado River water. Brandon Loomis, The Arizona Republic, 7 May 2022 By contrast, if even just a little more than a quarter of the new funding were to go toward freeway expansion, then the infrastructure bill would result in more carbon emissions than if nothing had passed, the report concluded. Los Angeles Times, 6 May 2022 By contrast, in 2009, just 54% of workers and 67% of retirees were confident about retirement. Next Avenue, Forbes, 6 May 2022 By contrast, about 3,400 applied this year to transfer. Washington Post, 5 May 2022 By contrast, Suzanne Abdalla, who works for a construction company in Michigan, said she was overcome with relief and a burst of energy. Anchorage Daily News, 5 May 2022 By contrast, softballers seemed to have little difficulty picking up hardball. New York Times, 4 May 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'contrast.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of contrast


1646, in the meaning defined at transitive sense


1711, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for contrast

Verb and Noun

French contraster, from Middle French, to oppose, resist, alteration of contrester, from Vulgar Latin *contrastare, from Latin contra- + stare to stand — more at stand

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Time Traveler for contrast

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The first known use of contrast was in 1646

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Last Updated

11 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Contrast.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for contrast


con·​trast | \ kən-ˈtrast How to pronounce contrast (audio) \
contrasted; contrasting

Kids Definition of contrast

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : to show noticeable differences Red contrasts with black.
2 : to compare two persons or things so as to show the differences between them Contrast the styles of these two authors.


con·​trast | \ ˈkän-ˌtrast How to pronounce contrast (audio) \

Kids Definition of contrast (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : something that is different from another Today's weather is quite a contrast to yesterday's.
2 : difference or the amount of difference (as in color or brightness) between parts a photo with good contrast
3 : difference or amount of difference between related or similar things the contrast between summer and winter

More from Merriam-Webster on contrast

Nglish: Translation of contrast for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of contrast for Arabic Speakers


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