a painting or drawing in different shades of a single color.
the art or technique of producing such a painting or drawing.
the state or condition of being painted, decorated, etc., in shades of a single color.


being or made in the shades of a single color: a blue monochrome seascape.
having the images reproduced in tones of gray: monochrome television.

Origin of monochrome

From the Medieval Latin word monochrōma, dating back to 1655–65. See mono-, -chrome
Related formsmon·o·chro·mic, mon·o·chro·mi·cal, adjectivemon·o·chro·mi·cal·ly, adverbmon·o·chrom·ist, nounmon·o·chro·my, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for monochrome

Contemporary Examples of monochrome

Historical Examples of monochrome

  • The monotone of the wind and the monochrome of the sky oppress him.

    A Spoil of Office

    Hamlin Garland

  • All the illustrations, both autochrome and monochrome, are the work of Mr. Coburn.

    Mark Twain

    Archibald Henderson

  • While some of the works were executed in brilliant colours, most of them were in monochrome.

  • Unfortunately, not having the originals, I can only give them in monochrome.

  • The landscape beneath it is not the monochrome picture most of us associate with moonlight.

    The Alps

    Martin Conway

British Dictionary definitions for monochrome



a black-and-white photograph or transparency
photog black and white
  1. a painting, drawing, etc, done in a range of tones of a single colour
  2. the technique or art of this
(modifier) executed in or resembling monochromea monochrome print


devoid of any distinctive or stimulating characteristics
Also called (for senses 3, 4): monotint
Derived Formsmonochromic or monochromical, adjectivemonochromist, noun

Word Origin for monochrome

C17: via Medieval Latin from Greek monokhrōmos of one colour
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 monochrome

1660s, "painting or drawing done in different tints of a single color," from Greek monochromos "of a single color," from monos "single, alone" (see mono-) + khroma (genitive khromatos) "color, complexion, skin" (see chroma). As an adjective from 1849. Photographic sense is recorded from 1940.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper