Definition of silhouette in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌsɪlʊˈɛt/


Image of silhouette
1The dark shape and outline of someone or something visible in restricted light against a brighter background: she paused to see its silhouette against the dimming sky
More example sentences
  • The design of their silhouettes against the light background with full windows is reminiscent of a Japanese screen.
  • They dive down deep and look for prey that appear as dark silhouettes against the brighter underside of the ice.
  • Dark silhouettes lurched crazily in the flickering light, while the pub doors creaked and slammed threatrically in the wind.
outline, contour(s), profile, delineation, form, shape, figure, shadow, features, lines, curves, configuration
1.1A representation of someone or something showing the shape and outline only, typically coloured in solid black: we can always use a silhouette of Father Christmas
More example sentences
  • These works are positives, so the amphibians are sharp, black silhouettes.
  • Sugiura often uses the photogram as a paper negative to print a positive, in which the subject becomes a black silhouette.
  • In one painting enigmatically titled Hoovering, there appears to be a black silhouette of a rabbit.


[with object]
Cast or show (someone or something) as a dark shape and outline against a brighter background: the castle was silhouetted against the sky
More example sentences
  • Even though it was dark, the moonlight silhouetted the intricate stone outline of the school.
  • Before the young man knew what was happening, two of the figures at the alley's entrance fell silently, silhouetting another dark figure with a silver longsword in his or her hand.
  • He was silhouetted against the outlines of the two empty beds across the room.
outline, etch, delineate, define, demarcate, delimit, mark off, trace;
(be silhouetted) stand out


in silhouette

Seen or placed as a silhouette: the old windmill stood out in silhouette against the sky
More example sentences
  • Connie sashays to the doorway where she stands in silhouette for a long, luxurious moment.
  • There, standing in silhouette against a backdrop of open sky and sweeping land, stood a man and his dog.
  • He stood in silhouette in the doorframe, head down, leaning against the side as if exhausted.


Late 18th century: named (although the reason remains uncertain) after Étienne de Silhouette (1709–67), French author and politician.

  • Étienne de Silhouette (1709–67) was an French author and politician. Why he gave his name to the dark outline of something against a brighter background remains obscure. One account says that the word ridiculed the petty economies Silhouette introduced while holding the office of Controller General, while another refers to the shortness of his occupancy of that post. A scholarly French dictionary suggested that Silhouette himself made outline portraits with which he decorated the walls of his château at Bry-sur-Marne. More than two centuries on, we shall probably never know the truth.

Words that rhyme with silhouette

abet, aiguillette, anisette, Annette, Antoinette, arête, Arlette, ate, baguette, banquette, barbette, barrette, basinet, bassinet, beget, Bernadette, beset, bet, Bette, blanquette, Brett, briquette, brochette, brunette (US brunet), Burnett, cadet, caravanette, cassette, castanet, charette, cigarette (US cigaret), clarinet, Claudette, Colette, coquette, corvette, couchette, courgette, croquette, curette, curvet, Debrett, debt, dinette, diskette, duet, epaulette (US epaulet), flageolet, flannelette, forget, fret, galette, gazette, Georgette, get, godet, grisette, heavyset, Jeanette, jet, kitchenette, La Fayette, landaulet, launderette, layette, lazaret, leatherette, let, Lett, lorgnette, luncheonette, lunette, Lynette, maisonette, majorette, maquette, Marie-Antoinette, marionette, Marquette, marquisette, martinet, met, minaret, minuet, moquette, motet, musette, Nanette, net, noisette, nonet, novelette, nymphet, octet, Odette, on-set, oubliette, Paulette, pet, Phuket, picquet, pillaret, pincette, pipette, piquet, pirouette, planchette, pochette, quartet, quickset, quintet, regret, ret, Rhett, roomette, rosette, roulette, satinette, septet, serviette, sestet, set, sett, sextet, soubrette, spinet, spinneret, statuette, stet, stockinet, sublet, suffragette, Suzette, sweat, thickset, threat, Tibet, toilette, tret, underlet, upset, usherette, vedette, vet, vignette, vinaigrette, wagonette, wet, whet, winceyette, yet, Yvette

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: sil¦hou|ette

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