See more synonyms for sketch on
  1. a simply or hastily executed drawing or painting, especially a preliminary one, giving the essential features without the details.
  2. a rough design, plan, or draft, as of a book.
  3. a brief or hasty outline of facts, occurrences, etc.: a sketch of his life.
  4. a short, usually descriptive, essay, history, or story.
  5. a short play or slight dramatic performance, as one forming part of a vaudeville program.
verb (used with object)
  1. to make a sketch of.
  2. to set forth in a brief or general account: He sketched his own part in the affair.
  3. Metallurgy. (in a steel mill or the like) to mark (a piece) for cutting.
verb (used without object)
  1. to make a sketch or sketches.

Origin of sketch

1660–70; < Dutch schets (noun) ≪ Italian schizzo < Latin schedium extemporaneous poem, noun use of neuter of schedius extempore < Greek schédios
Related formssketch·er, nounsketch·ing·ly, adverbsketch·like, adjectivere·sketch, verb (used with object)un·sketched, adjectivewell-sketched, adjective

Synonyms for sketch

See more synonyms for on
2. outline. 5. skit, act, routine. 6. draw, outline, design, rough out, delineate, represent.

Synonym study

6. See depict. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for sketch

Contemporary Examples of sketch

Historical Examples of sketch

  • We must now close our sketch of those diversified and pleasant volumes.

  • You must have lost that sketch after you reached San Francisco.

    Her Father's Daughter

    Gene Stratton-Porter

  • I arose from my chair and examined the sketch of the starving mountaineer.

    The Underdog

    F. Hopkinson Smith

  • "I wanted to have a talk to you about that sketch," he said to John.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

  • Mr. Cream took the MS. of John's sketch from his pocket and spread it on the table.

    The Foolish Lovers

    St. John G. Ervine

British Dictionary definitions for sketch


  1. a rapid drawing or painting, often a study for subsequent elaboration
  2. a brief usually descriptive and informal essay or other literary composition
  3. a short play, often comic, forming part of a revue
  4. a short evocative piece of instrumental music, esp for piano
  5. any brief outline
  1. to make a rough drawing (of)
  2. (tr often foll by out) to make a brief description of
Derived Formssketchable, adjectivesketcher, noun

Word Origin for sketch

C17: from Dutch schets, via Italian from Latin schedius hastily made, from Greek skhedios unprepared
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 sketch

"rough drawing intended to serve as the basis for a finished picture," 1660s, from Dutch schets or Low German skizze, both apparently 17c. artists' borrowings from Italian schizzo "sketch, drawing," which is commonly said to be from Latin *schedius (OED compares schedia "raft," schedium "an extemporaneous poem"), from or related to Greek skhedios "temporary, extemporaneous, done or made off-hand," related to skhema "form, shape, appearance" (see scheme (n.)). But according to Barnhart Italian schizzo is a special use of schizzo "a splash, squirt," from schizzare "to splash or squirt," of uncertain origin.

Extended sense of "brief account" is from 1660s; meaning "short play or performance, usually comic" is from 1789. Sketch-book recorded from 1820. German Skizze, French esquisse, Spanish esquicio are likewise from Italian schizzo.


1690s, "present the essential facts of," from sketch (n.). Meaning "draw, portray in outline and partial shading" is from 1725. Related: Sketched; sketcher; sketching.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper