fore·​short·​en | \ fȯr-ˈshȯr-tᵊn How to pronounce foreshorten (audio) \
foreshortened; foreshortening; foreshortens

Definition of foreshorten

transitive verb

1 : to shorten by proportionately contracting in the direction of depth so that an illusion of projection or extension in space is obtained
2 : to make more compact : abridge, shorten

Did you know?

Foreshorten first appeared in a 1606 treatise on art by the British writer and artist Henry Peacham: "If I should paint ... an horse with his brest and head looking full in my face, I must of necessity foreshorten him behinde." Peacham's "foreshorten" probably comes from "fore-" (meaning "earlier" or "beforehand") plus "shorten." The addition of "fore-" to verbs was a routine practice in Peacham's day, creating such words as "fore-conclude," "fore-consider," "fore-instruct," and "fore-repent." "Foreshorten," along with words like "foresee" and "foretell," is one of the few "fore-" combinations to still survive.

Examples of foreshorten in a Sentence

The parts that extend towards the viewer are foreshortened.
Recent Examples on the Web However, because crises foreshorten the time horizon of most investors, Kroger’s shares are up more than 10% year to date, beating the market by roughly 25 percentage points. Adam Seessel, Fortune, 22 Apr. 2020 Throughout history, plagues and pandemics have flattened human aspirations and foreshortened attention spans from long-term plans to day-by-day survival. Steven Litt, cleveland, 12 Apr. 2020 The Golden Gate Bridge is seen from above, its sweeping lines foreshortened. Roland Li,, 24 Feb. 2020 While the foreshortened sleeping figures in the foreground and even the curving road at right are clearly nods to his brother-in-law, Bellini’s vision is his own. Mary Tompkins Lewis, WSJ, 3 Nov. 2018 Instead, Cooper uses a foreign artist’s exotic insight to foreshorten western-movie mythology. Armond White, National Review, 26 Jan. 2018 Muscles stretched magically, foreshortened shockingly. Jeet Heer, New Republic, 28 Aug. 2017 An upright posture, powerful hind legs and foreshortened front limbs were all reminiscent of theropods. Charles P. Pierce, Esquire, 18 Aug. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'foreshorten.' 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 foreshorten

1606, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of foreshorten was in 1606

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Cite this Entry

“Foreshorten.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for foreshorten



English Language Learners Definition of foreshorten

: to cause (something) to appear shorter than it really is because it is in the foreground of a drawing, painting, etc.
: to make (something) shorter


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