- a two-dimensional representation of the outline of an object, as a cutout or configurational drawing, uniformly filled in with black, especially a black-paper, miniature cutout of the outlines of a person's face in profile.
- the outline or general shape of something: the slim silhouette of a skyscraper.
- a dark image outlined against a lighter background.
- to show in or as if in a silhouette.
- Printing. to remove the background details from (a halftone cut) so as to produce an outline effect.
Origin of silhouette
Related Words for silhouettelikeness, shape, shade, portrait, shadow, contour, profile, figuration, delineation, form, line, etching, lineament, lineation
Examples from the Web for silhouette
Contemporary Examples of silhouette
I would have added “no photographs of meditative politicians walking on the shore” with a slash though a silhouette of JFK.Why I Hate The Beach
P. J. O’Rourke
July 27, 2014
As you walk in front of the first screen, your silhouette appears and birds swoop down toward you.Frickin’ Laser Beams Run by Eyeballs: The Next Art Revolution Is Here
July 7, 2014
And I sat there as he shot the silhouette, but he had to stop because I started frantically crying.The First Modern School Shooter Feels Responsible for the Rest
May 30, 2014
The silhouette was classic Christopher Bailey, with coat dresses, wraps and pencil skirts predominating.Burberry Prorsum Spring/ Summer 2014
September 16, 2013
The silhouette was structured and architectural—for pants, skirts, and tops.Francisco Costa’s 10 Years at Calvin Klein
September 13, 2013
Historical Examples of silhouette
When he rose from his chair his body came in silhouette against their light.The Underdog
F. Hopkinson Smith
At one window he saw Charles Phillips' silhouette; he was reading, apparently.Shavings
Joseph C. Lincoln
The silhouette on the mantelpiece is of aunt Mercy, his mother's unmarried sister.Whittier-land
Samuel T. Pickard
Then the silhouette seemed to float down out of sight, and was gone.The Plunderer
Then the old man's form appeared in silhouette against the dark.
- the outline of a solid figure as cast by its shadow
- an outline drawing filled in with black, often a profile portrait cut out of black paper and mounted on a light ground
- (tr) to cause to appear in silhouette
Word Origin for silhouette
1798, from French silhouette, in reference to Étienne de Silhouette (1709-1767), French minister of finance in 1759. Usually said to be so called because it was an inexpensive way of making a likeness of someone, a derisive reference to Silhouette's petty economies to finance the Seven Years' War, which were unpopular among the nobility. But other theories are that it refers to his brief tenure in office, or the story that he decorated his chateau with such portraits.
Silhouette portraits were so called simply because they came into fashion in the year (1759) in which M. de Silhouette was minister. [A. Brachet, "An Etymological Dictionary of the French Language," transl. G.W. Kitchin, 1882]
Used of any sort of dark outline or shadow in profile from 1843. The verb is recorded from 1876, from the noun. The family name is a Frenchified form of a Basque surname; Arnaud de Silhouette, the finance minister's father, was from Biarritz in the French Basque country; the southern Basque form of the name would be Zuloeta or Zulueta, which contains the suffix -eta "abundance of" and zulo "hole" (possibly here meaning "cave").