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vignette

[vin-yet]
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noun
  1. a decorative design or small illustration used on the title page of a book or at the beginning or end of a chapter.
  2. an engraving, drawing, photograph, or the like that is shaded off gradually at the edges so as to leave no definite line at the border.
  3. a decorative design representing branches, leaves, grapes, or the like, as in a manuscript.
  4. any small, pleasing picture or view.
  5. a small, graceful literary sketch.
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verb (used with object), vi·gnet·ted, vi·gnet·ting.
  1. Photography. to finish (a picture, photograph, etc.) in the manner of a vignette.
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Origin of vignette

1745–55; < French: literally, little vine (see vine, -ette); so called from vinelike decorations in early books
Related formsvi·gnet·tist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for vignette

vignette

noun
  1. a small illustration placed at the beginning or end of a book or chapter
  2. a short graceful literary essay or sketch
  3. a photograph, drawing, etc, with edges that are shaded off
  4. architect a carved ornamentation that has a design based upon tendrils, leaves, etc
  5. any small endearing scene, view, picture, etc
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verb (tr)
  1. to finish (a photograph, picture, etc) with a fading border in the form of a vignette
    1. to decorate with vignettes
    2. to portray in or as in a vignette
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Derived Formsvignettist, noun

Word Origin

C18: from French, literally: little vine, from vigne vine; with reference to the vine motif frequently used in embellishments to a text
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 vignette

n.

1751, "decorative design," originally a design in the form of vine tendrils around the borders of a book page, especially a picture page, from French vignette, from Old French diminutive of vigne "vineyard" (see vine). Sense transferred from the border to the picture itself, then (1853) to a type of small photographic portrait with blurred edges very popular mid-19c. Meaning "literary sketch" is first recorded 1880, probably from the photographic sense.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper