Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

silhouette

[sil-oo-et]
noun
  1. 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.
  2. the outline or general shape of something: the slim silhouette of a skyscraper.
  3. a dark image outlined against a lighter background.
Show More
verb (used with object), sil·hou·et·ted, sil·hou·et·ting.
  1. to show in or as if in a silhouette.
  2. Printing. to remove the background details from (a halftone cut) so as to produce an outline effect.
Show More

Origin of silhouette

1790–1800; < French à la silhouette, after Etienne de Silhouette (1709–67), French finance minister
Related formsun·sil·hou·et·ted, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for silhouetting

Historical Examples of silhouetting

  • There are some dusty streets, and silhouetting against the dim sky a dilapidated faade of some broken pillars.

    Memoirs of My Dead Life

    George Moore

  • Another flare flashed in the sky behind him silhouetting a row of grotesque trees.

    The Quantum Jump

    Robert Wicks

  • Was it she or was it only memory suddenly awakening and silhouetting her upon that background of massed humanity?

    The Plum Tree

    David Graham Phillips

  • The sun fell over a circle of rocky peaks, silhouetting their severe lines against the azure sky.

    Atlantida

    Pierre Benoit

  • Twice or thrice I saw the “V” of her bow shoot skyward, silhouetting like a black wedge against a fan of sun-shot spray.

    Down the Columbia

    Lewis R. Freeman


British Dictionary definitions for silhouetting

silhouette

noun
  1. the outline of a solid figure as cast by its shadow
  2. an outline drawing filled in with black, often a profile portrait cut out of black paper and mounted on a light ground
Show More
verb
  1. (tr) to cause to appear in silhouette
Show More

Word Origin for silhouette

C18: named after Étienne de Silhouette (1709–67), French politician, perhaps referring to silhouettes as partial portraits, with a satirical allusion to Silhouette's brief career as controller general (1759)
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 silhouetting

silhouette

n.

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").

Show More
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper