[ vin-yet ]
/ vɪnˈyɛt /


a decorative design or small illustration used on the title page of a book or at the beginning or end of a chapter.
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.
a decorative design representing branches, leaves, grapes, or the like, as in a manuscript.
any small, pleasing picture or view.
a small, graceful literary sketch.

verb (used with object), vi·gnet·ted, vi·gnet·ting.

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


vi·gnet·tist, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020


What does vignette mean?

A vignette is a small illustration or design, especially one that appears on a book’s title page or between chapters.

This primary meaning of vignette has been extended in several ways, such as to refer to other small illustrations or images done in a similar style, or to brief scenes from literature or other works. Vignette can also be used as a verb, meaning to create such a thing or to do something in the style of a vignette.

Example: I love these old books that have lovely vignettes at the beginning of each chapter.

Where does vignette come from?

The first records of vignette in English come from around the mid-1700s. It is formed with the diminutive suffix -ette, which is commonly used in French loan words to indicate smaller versions of things, as in kitchenette and novelette. Vignette was borrowed into English directly from the French vignette, meaning “little vine,” a reference to early vignettes, which often depicted vines and trees in small sketches.

Such sketches often did not have defined borders, and the word vignette was extended to refer to any image, such as a drawing or photograph, that was gradually shaded at its edges so that it had no definite border. A common example is a portrait (painting or photo) that only shows a person’s head and shoulders. More generally, vignette can refer to any small sketch, picture, or view. The term also eventually came to refer to a brief, memorable scene in a fictional work such as a novel or a play—or, more recently, a movie. Some movies consist entirely of vignettes. One example is the 2018 movie The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which features several short tales, each corresponding with a story from a book. Each scene in the movie is introduced by showing an illustrated vignette from the corresponding chapter in the book. (In the book, they’re called plates, which is a term for full-page illustrations.)

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What are some other forms related to vignette?

  • vignettes (plural)
  • vignettist (noun)

What are some synonyms for vignette?

What are some words that share a root or word element with vignette


What are some words that often get used in discussing vignette?


How is vignette used in real life?

Vignette is used in a variety of ways, but most of them have to do with small illustrations or brief sketches, such as in books or movies.



Try using vignette!

Is vignette used properly in the following sentence?

I added a small vignette at the beginning of each chapter to show what each character looks like.

Example sentences from the Web for vignette

British Dictionary definitions for vignette

/ (vɪˈnjɛt) /


verb (tr)

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

Derived forms of vignette

vignettist, noun

Word Origin for vignette

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