Definition of miniature in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈmin(ē)əCHər/
Pronunciation: /ˈmin(ē)əˌCHo͝or/


(Especially of a replica of something) of a much smaller size than normal; very small: children dressed as miniature adults
More example sentences
  • And out of that we're getting a hedge of miniature roses.
  • Month-old ringtails look like miniature adults: the same black and white clown make-up and soft grey fur.
  • Unfortunately, miniature roses have little or no fragrance.
small-scale, mini;
tiny, little, small, minute, baby, toy, pocket, dwarf, pygmy, minuscule, diminutive, vest-pocket
informal teeny, teeny-weeny, teensy, teensy-weensy, itsy-bitsy, eensy, eensy-weensy
Scottish  wee


1A thing that is much smaller than normal, especially a small replica or model.
Example sentences
  • Hazy, speculative figures wander through the evocative landscapes and buildings he creates using miniatures, models, televisions, glass and mirrors.
  • Rufforth Airfield has been hosting the Yorkshire Air Spectacular, with flying model craft ranging in size from miniatures to monsters with a 25 ft wingspan.
  • As miniatures of human bodies, dolls have had many meanings.
1.1A plant or animal that is a smaller version of an existing variety or breed.
Example sentences
  • He's bred miniatures as small as your thumbnail, and crossbred them to give large, ranging plants shape.
  • A keen observer can also find around the same area a tiny plant, almost a miniature of the creeper Torenia travancorica.
  • For miniatures used as landscape plants, use hedge shears to maintain size.
1.2A very small and highly detailed portrait or other painting.
Example sentences
  • Johnson also worked at three-quarter-length and occasionally full-length, as well as painting portrait miniatures in oil on copper.
  • The new gallery of British portrait miniatures, including this depiction of Jane Small by Hans Holbein, opens on 2 March.
  • During his work on portrait miniatures Reynolds turned to the Victorian paintings that had been given to the museum by John Sheepshanks in 1857 as a core collection of British art.
1.3A picture or decorated letter in an illuminated manuscript.
Example sentences
  • His image has also survived in a few panel paintings, later copies of original portraits, and through representations of the duke and his court in the miniatures of illuminated manuscripts.
  • It runs the gamut of art riches over the centuries, stretching to murals, miniatures and manuscripts.
  • Numerous panels, often deliberately aged, and illuminated miniatures or historiated initials, usually on reused leaves from genuine medieval manuscripts, survive and frequently appear on the art market.


[with object] rare
Represent on a smaller scale; reduce to miniature dimensions.
Example sentences
  • In exchange, he offered his own likeness - ‘a picture of the old gold hunter, so you may compare the doctor (as miniatured and sent to mother in '49) with the gold hunter of the present.’
  • The ceiling here arches in this way that miniatures me, and the floor is long and grey.


in miniature

On a small scale, but otherwise a replica: a place that is Greece in miniature
More example sentences
  • Initially needing to know the shape of the quickest hull, he modelled them in miniature, undoubtedly the first to experiment on a small scale.
  • A street-scene is played in miniature in the small stage and as the tiny puppet turns its back to open a door, the full size character enters in the large upper playing space.
  • Like the Bonsai trees in the classical gardens of Suzhou, it's China in miniature that captures the imagination, every bit as much as its grand monumental flourishes.


Late 16th century: from Italian miniatura, via medieval Latin from Latin miniare 'rubricate, illuminate', from minium 'red lead, vermilion' (used to mark particular words in manuscripts).

  • When monks and scribes decorated the initial letters of chapters in illuminated manuscripts, they often painted small images. It was not the smallness that miniature originally referred to, though, but the colour of the paint used for the capital letters. Latin minium was a word for the red pigment vermilion. It is the source of Italian miniatura, which originally referred to the illuminating of manuscript letters but came to be used for small portraits, and gave us miniature in the late 16th century. Mini is an abbreviation of miniature that became popular in the early 20th century. The Mini car, originally known as the Mini Minor, was launched by the British Motor Corporation in 1959, and became an iconic vehicle of the swinging 60s that was immortalized in the film The Italian Job (1969). The other mini of the 60s was the miniskirt, which symbolized the decade's sexual permissiveness. The French fashion designer André Courrèges is credited with its invention, although it was popularized by Mary Quant. The word is first recorded in 1965, the year when the fashion was first seen.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: min·i·a·ture

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.