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[kon-too r] /ˈkɒn tʊər/
the outline of a figure or body; the edge or line that defines or bounds a shape or object.
Phonetics. a distinctive pattern of changes in pitch, stress, or tone extending across all or part of an utterance, especially across a sentence, and contributing to meaning.
verb (used with object)
to mark with contour lines.
to make or form the contour or outline of.
to build (a road, railroad track, etc.) in conformity with the contour of the land.
to mold or shape so as to fit a certain configuration:
cars with seats that are contoured for comfort.
molded or shaped to fit a particular contour or form:
contour seats.
Agriculture. of or used in a system of plowing, cultivating, sowing, etc., along the contour lines of the land in order to trap water runoff and prevent erosion.
Origin of contour
1655-65; < French, equivalent to con- con- + tour a turn (see tour), modeled on Italian contorno, derivative of contornare to outline; see turn
Related forms
recontour, verb (used with object)
uncontoured, adjective
1. configuration, form, boundary. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for contoured
Historical Examples
  • Our tie strengthened and sustained us in our zest for a world so coloured and contoured.

    Plum Pudding

    Christopher Morley
  • Stillwell commenced a contoured plane-table survey of the neighbourhood of Winter Quarters.

    The Home of the Blizzard Douglas Mawson
  • How teeth may best be contoured involves nice questions in geometry.

    Inventors at Work George Iles
  • To ensure the utmost strength in the machines themselves they are contoured in ample curves.

    Inventors at Work George Iles
  • The grinding tools he employs he has contoured in such wise as to produce desired curves free from error.

    Inventors at Work George Iles
  • The scientific value of these contoured maps is fully recognized.

  • In all maps that are to be contoured some plane, called the datum plane, must be used to which all contours are referred.

  • contoured: An irregular but smoothly undulating surface, resembling the surface of a relief map.

British Dictionary definitions for contoured


the outline of a mass of land, figure, or body; a defining line
  1. See contour line
  2. (as modifier): a contour map
(often pl) the shape or surface, esp of a curving form: the contours of her body were full and round
(modifier) shaped to fit the form of something: a contour chair
a rising and falling variation pattern, as in music and intonation
verb (transitive)
to shape so as to form the contour of something
to mark contour lines on
to construct (a road, railway, etc) to follow the outline of the land
Word Origin
C17: from French, from Italian contorno, from contornare to sketch, from tornare to turn
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for contoured



1660s, a term in painting and sculpture, from French contour "circumference, outline," from Italian and Medieval Latin contornare "to go around," from Latin com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + tornare "to turn (on a lathe);" see turn (v.).

First recorded application to topography is from 1769. Earlier the word was used to mean "bedspread, quilt" (early 15c.) in reference to its falling over the sides of the mattress. Related: Contoured. Contour line in geography is from 1844.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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