[min-ee-uh-cher, -choor, min-uh-cher]


a representation or image of something on a small or reduced scale.
a greatly reduced or abridged form or copy.
a very small painting, especially a portrait, on ivory, vellum, or the like.
the art of executing such a painting.
an illumination in an illuminated manuscript or book.


being, on, or represented on a small scale; reduced.


    in miniature, in a reduced size; on a small scale: The zoo exhibition offered a jungle in miniature.

Origin of miniature

1580–90; < Italian miniatura miniature painting < Medieval Latin miniātūra, equivalent to miniāt(us) (see miniate) + -ūra -ure; sense development perhaps influenced by Latin base min- (see mini-, minor)
Related formssu·per·min·i·a·ture, adjective

Synonyms for miniature Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for miniature

Contemporary Examples of miniature

Historical Examples of miniature

  • Can our sweet Sylph be going to heaven, to seek the original of the miniature?

    Sylph Etherege

    Nathaniel Hawthorne

  • She took a miniature from his neck, and I drew his purse and watch from him and handed them to her.

    Ned Myers

    James Fenimore Cooper

  • Lucy Ann did her miniature cooking with great seriousness and care.

    Tiverton Tales

    Alice Brown

  • I declined the tray; so he placed it on his own knees, to act as a miniature table.

  • He was caught in the miniature rapid at the bottom of the pool.

    White Fang

    Jack London

British Dictionary definitions for miniature



a model, copy, or similar representation on a very small scale
anything that is very small of its kind
a very small painting, esp a portrait, showing fine detail on ivory or vellum
a very small bottle of whisky or other spirits, which can hold 50 millilitres
an illuminated letter or other decoration in a manuscript
in miniature on a small scalegames are real life in miniature


greatly reduced in size
on a small scale; minute

Word Origin for miniature

C16: from Italian, from Medieval Latin miniātūra, from miniāre to paint red, (in illuminating manuscripts); from minium
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 miniature

1580s, "a reduced image," from Italian miniatura "manuscript illumination or small picture," from past participle of miniare "to illuminate a manuscript," from Latin miniare "to paint red," from minium "red lead," used in ancient times to make red ink, a word said to be of Iberian origin. Sense development is because pictures in medieval manuscripts were small, but no doubt there was influence as well from the similar-sounding Latin words that express smallness: minor, minimus, minutus, etc.


"small," 1714, from minature (n.). Of dog breeds, from 1889. Of golf, from 1893.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper