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verb (used with object), high·light·ed, high·light·ing.
  1. to emphasize or make prominent.
  2. to create highlights in (a photograph or engraving).
  1. Also high light. an important, conspicuous, memorable, or enjoyable event, scene, part, or the like: the highlight of his talk; the highlight of the concert series.
  2. the area of most intense light on a represented form, as in a painting or photograph.

Origin of highlight

An Americanism dating back to 1850–55; high + light1
Related formshigh·light·er, noun

Synonyms for highlight

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for highlighted


  1. an area of the lightest tone in a painting, drawing, photograph, etc
  2. the most exciting or memorable part of an event or period of time
  3. (often plural) a bleached blond streak in the hair
verb (tr)
  1. painting drawing photog to mark (any brightly illuminated or prominent part of a form or figure) with light tone
  2. to bring notice or emphasis to
  3. to be the highlight of
  4. to produce blond streaks in (the hair) by bleaching
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

Word Origin and History for highlighted



1650s, originally of paintings, "the brightest part of a subject," from high (adj.) + light (n.). The figurative sense of "outstanding feature or characteristic" is from 1855. The verb is from 1861. Hairdressing sense is 1941 (n.), 1942 (v.). Related: Highlighted; highlighting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper