from The American Heritage¬ģ Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. A drawing consisting of the outline of something, especially a human profile, filled in with a solid color.
  • n. An outline that appears dark against a light background. See Synonyms at outline.
  • transitive v. To cause to be seen as a silhouette; outline: Figures were silhouetted against the setting sun.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An illustrated outline filled in with a solid color(s), usually only black, and intended to represent the shape of an object without revealing any other visual details; a similar appearance produced when the object being viewed is situated in relative darkness with brighter lighting behind it; a profile portrait in black, such as a shadow appears to be.
  • v. To represent by a silhouette; to project upon a background, so as to be like a silhouette.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A representation of the outlines of an object filled in with a black color; a profile portrait in black, such as a shadow appears to be.
  • transitive v. To represent by a silhouette; to project upon a background, so as to be like a silhouette.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To represent or exhibit in silhouette; make or bring out a shaded profile or outline view of: used chiefly or only in the past participle.
  • n. Originally, a portrait in black or some other uniform tint, sometimes varied as to the bailor other parts by lighter lines or a lightening of shade, showing the profile as cast by a candle on a sheet of paper; hence, any opaque portrait, design, or image in profile.
  • n. Opaque representation or exhibition in profile; the figure made by the shadow or a shadowy outline of an object; shadow.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. project on a background, such as a screen, like a silhouette
  • n. a drawing of the outline of an object; filled in with some uniform color
  • n. an outline of a solid object (as cast by its shadow)
  • v. represent by a silhouette


French, after √Čtienne de Silhouette (1709-1767), French finance minister.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Borrowing from French silhouette (Wiktionary)


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  • When I looked up the etymology of the word silhouette and saw his name, I thought a virus had somehow infected my copy of the OED.

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  • Victims of his high taxes complained and used the word silhouette to refer to their wealth being reduced to a mere shadow of what it once was.

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  • The most pronounced element of the car is its rakish, coupe-like silhouette, which is a function of where the roofline lands on the rear deck.

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  • Kenneth Josephson's shadow falls across his son, "Matthew, 1963," an infant lying on the ground swaddled in white; we know the silhouette is the child's father because it hovers protectively over the sleeping figure.

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  • Her silhouette was a classic one, but the color and fabric were quite modern.

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  • BTW, where are the profiles in courage, aka silhouette pix of Ian and Tessa's scary-hairy and very-very tummies?

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  • But some parents didn't expect to be separated from the kids so they don't have pictures and you only see a silhouette, which is on the screen right now.

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