Definition of outline in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈaʊtlʌɪn/


1A line or set of lines enclosing or indicating the shape of an object in a sketch or diagram: the chalked outline of a human body
More example sentences
  • These often show white underdrawing, probably white chalk, or outlines sketched in thin oil paint, either in white or a slightly darker shade of the ground colour.
  • On a bright yellow ground, round or oval passages of gritty, greenish relief become squirting slices of citrus fruit, their outlines sketched in charcoal.
  • Thin, firm outlines now enclose each figure's palpably modeled form and the palette focuses on jewel-like variations on the primaries and black.
silhouette, profile, figure, shape, contour, form, line, lineaments, delineation;
configuration, perimeter, circumference, tracing, layout, framework, skeleton, diagram, sketch, artist's impression
1.1The contours or bounds of an object: the outlines of dockside warehouses standing sharp on the skyline
More example sentences
  • And the next shot is exactly that of a languid, exquisitely shaped flower which picks up and repeats the outline of the bound foot.
  • The common female pictogram usually appears on women's restrooms, and the figure typically has the outline of a skirt.
  • Proportion we say is these outlines and contours positioned in proportion in their places.
1.2A representation of a word in shorthand.
2A general description or plan showing the essential features of something but not the detail: an outline of parliamentary procedure [as modifier]: an outline proposal
More example sentences
  • The General submitted the broad outlines of his plan to Lincoln and the President trusting in Grant approved the design without seeking to know the details.
  • It is a criterion that those of us who teach college students would do well to keep in mind as we plan our course outlines.
  • On both sides, however, there is broad agreement on the general outlines, despite extensive divergence on the details.
rough idea, thumbnail sketch, (quick) rundown, abbreviated version, summary, synopsis, résumé, precis, abridgement, abstract, reduction, digest;
epitome, essence, storyline, storyboard, main points, gist, bones, bare bones, skeleton, draft, plan, sketch, scheme


[with object]
1Draw, trace, or define the outer edge or shape of: her eyes were darkly outlined with kohl
More example sentences
  • The noise was Paula opening the door, blue dawn light outlining the frayed edges of her hair.
  • The wind whipped at her skirt pulling the material taut across her calves and thighs, outlining her shape as the marble of a statue.
  • Once both coats have dried, carefully outline the edges of the door with your trim material (we glued on a gold border).
silhouette, define, demarcate, delimit, mark off;
sketch, delineate, trace, pencil
2Give a summary of: she outlined the case briefly
More example sentences
  • At the start of each day, a semi-official guide is issued outlining the expected order of business.
  • We issued a report outlining the problem and made recommendations on how to solve it.
  • Delegates said a statement will be issued later outlining the results of the meetings.
rough out, sketch out, block out, indicate, touch on, draft, give a thumbnail sketch of, give a rough idea of, give a quick rundown on, summarize, precis


in outline

In broad terms: the plan has been agreed in outline
More example sentences
  • So that, briefly in outline, is what we're going to do.
  • The arguments for this view are complex and difficult to summarise briefly, but in outline are as follows.
  • The proposals, which have been submitted in outline form to City of York Council, include 720 new homes in buildings up to seven storeys high.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: out|line

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