- to compare in order to show unlikeness or differences; note the opposite natures, purposes, etc., of: Contrast the political rights of Romans and Greeks.
- to exhibit unlikeness on comparison with something else; form a contrast.
- Linguistics. to differ in a way that can serve to distinguish meanings: The sounds (p) and (b) contrast in the words “pin” and “bin.”
- the act of contrasting; the state of being contrasted.
- a striking exhibition of unlikeness.
- a person or thing that is strikingly unlike in comparison: The weather down here is a welcome contrast to what we're having back home.
- opposition or juxtaposition of different forms, lines, or colors in a work of art to intensify each element's properties and produce a more dynamic expressiveness.
- Photography. the relative difference between light and dark areas of a print or negative.
- Television. the brightness ratio of the lightest to the darkest part of the television screen image.
- Linguistics. a difference between linguistic elements, especially sounds, that can serve to distinguish meanings.
Origin of contrast
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for contrasts
That contrasts with a 49 to 48 percent advantage for Democrats in the other 37 states.Seriously, Democrats: You’re Done in Dixie
December 10, 2014
All of this contrasts markedly with pre-recession policies, especially what has come to be known as the “Beckham Law.”Is Soccer Great Lionel Messi Corrupt?
December 8, 2014
Viewers love the show because it contrasts rich and poor, upstairs and down, particularly when the two worlds collide.What ‘Downton Abbey’ Can Teach The Queen
January 29, 2014
He talked about monochrome color-blocks and an absolute positioning of the Fendi image: contrasts with visual harmony.Fendi Spring/ Summer 2014: Karl's Dreamland
September 19, 2013
This contrasts with many urban regions, where close-in areas just beyond downtowns have been actually losing population.Houston Rising—Why the Next Great American Cities Aren’t What You Think
April 8, 2013
The contrasts were so cruel that they scorched the eyes of the soul.The Conquest of Fear
It contrasts "foe and friend," just as the sonnet contrasts "love and hate."The Man Shakespeare
These contrasts might, indeed, be tragic enough, but they are actually comic.The American Mind
His love of reputation is characteristically Greek, and contrasts with the humility of Socrates.Charmides
Recognition of contrasts (the presentation of the extremes of a series of objects).Dr. Montessori's Own Handbook
- (often foll by with) to distinguish or be distinguished by comparison of unlike or opposite qualities
- distinction or emphasis of difference by comparison of opposite or dissimilar things, qualities, etc (esp in the phrases by contrast, in contrast to or with)
- a person or thing showing notable differences when compared with another
- (in painting) the effect of the juxtaposition of different colours, tones, etc
- (of a photographic emulsion) the degree of density measured against exposure used
- the extent to which adjacent areas of an optical image, esp on a television screen or in a photographic negative or print, differ in brightness
- psychol the phenomenon that when two different but related stimuli are presented close together in space and/or time they are perceived as being more different than they really are
Word Origin and History for contrasts
1690s, from French contraster (Old French contrester), modified by or from Italian contrastare "stand out against, strive, contend," from Vulgar Latin *contrastare "to withstand," from Latin contra "against" (see contra) + stare "to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand" (see stet).
Middle English had contrest "to fight against, to withstand," which became extinct. Modern word re-introduced as an art term. Related: Contrasted; contrasting; contrastive.
1711, from contrast (v.).