Definition of outline in English:



  • 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’
    • ‘Within minutes I had sketched the outline to a landscape scene.’
    • ‘The shapes, crisp outlines and clear, near-obsessive glyphs are quite exquisite.’
    • ‘On this motley background, the artist painted a pattern of thick black lines suggesting the outlines of many small adjoining stones.’
    • ‘Instead he heightens the outline of his figures so that they resemble cartoons.’
    • ‘The filtered sand is then sprinkled over the outline of the portrait sketched on a hard-board.’
    • ‘On a bright yellow ground, round or oval passages of gritty, greenish relief become squirting slices of citrus fruit, their outlines sketched in charcoal.’
    • ‘She slowly sketched out an outline of a clearly female human.’
    • ‘Some did the entire comic themselves, but most that I saw had somebody to sketch the outline and another to actually line the drawings properly.’
    • ‘Some pentimenti are also evident in the underdrawn outlines.’
    • ‘Suppose that one of Vermeer's main uses for the camera obscura was to obtain precise outlines for the various shapes in a composition.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In 1881, Seurat copied the outline of yet another and made a careful list of its pigments.’
    • ‘In the same room were eight large, colorful drawings, done in an appealing storybook style with clear outlines and bright, flat color.’
    • ‘In each work, some of the marks are made only with outlines and others are filled in with washes.’
    • ‘A man holds a large canvas imprinted with two outlines of her figure, one pink, the other brown.’
    • ‘It become softer and the outlines more sketchy.’
    • ‘Their bodies have clear outlines, filled in with solid areas of color.’
    • ‘These works, made of painted and patinated bronze, again employ bold black outlines, primary colors and hatching.’
    • ‘Thin, firm outlines now enclose each figure's palpably modeled form and the palette focuses on jewel-like variations on the primaries and black.’
    • ‘However, the characters are put through a complicated process that makes them look like two-dimensional line drawings, with outlines.’
    silhouette, profile, figure, shape, contour, form, line, lineaments, delineation
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    1. 1.1The contours or bounds of an object.
      ‘the outlines of dockside warehouses standing sharp on the skyline’
      • ‘The pro teams are ghost sides, their outline only faintly discernible, manufactured solely to advance the national squad.’
      • ‘Punch holes in the outline of each letter about one inch apart.’
      • ‘The common female pictogram usually appears on women's restrooms, and the figure typically has the outline of a skirt.’
      • ‘The sun was just rising and I could see its outline against the sky line about 1000 feet in altitude.’
      • ‘The familiar skyline is superimposed with the outline of two figures in an intimate embrace.’
      • ‘After chasing the black cat, I spend an hour wandering the mossy field where the outlines of a dozen warehouses remain.’
      • ‘He said the aerial photography team had been able to spot the outline of the camps because of the soil condition, which meant the shapes were visible from the air, but not from ground level.’
      • ‘This datolite conforms to the outline of the vesicles, and the rim or rinds of the masses are semismooth and usually coated with a dark green to black chloritic mineral.’
      • ‘I wrote one sentence over the whole surface of the green form, in big black letters with silver outlines and emphasisers.’
      • ‘And the next shot is exactly that of a languid, exquisitely shaped flower which picks up and repeats the outline of the bound foot.’
      • ‘At yards and terminals, thin lines are used to indicate the outlines of the limit of trackage.’
      • ‘Proportion we say is these outlines and contours positioned in proportion in their places.’
      • ‘The first artistic act, according to legend, was the tracing of the outline of a human shadow in ancient Egypt (or, by some accounts, ancient Corinth).’
      • ‘The cone shape of the limpet can be visualised lying on its side to form the outline of the cuttlefish body, but it takes a lot of imagination.’
      • ‘The ductal structures showed an irregular outline with infoldings of the glands.’
      • ‘Also, while working on the plane we spotted the outline of a bell under a coat of paint on the nacelle.’
      • ‘On the north side of the building, the extension has reached first-floor level and the outline of the windows can be seen.’
      • ‘In plan-form the dune has an irregular outline but the eastern margin is more complex and irregular than the western edge.’
      • ‘It was bent at a strange angle and the outline of bone was evident, protruding to the point of almost breaking through the skin.’
      • ‘Picasso learned from Cezanne that the outlines of landscapes and bodies can be broken up and that the hidden, intuitive facets of perspective objects can be shown.’
    2. 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’
    • ‘Opening up the binder, Ian finds a thick proposal and outline, with a title that produces a smile on his lips.’
    • ‘Before going any further, it will be useful to give a brief outline of the main events, concentrating on those that were of greatest concern to the kings of England.’
    • ‘The following is an outline of the main courses which commence September and the contact details from the colleges which provide them.’
    • ‘On both sides, however, there is broad agreement on the general outlines, despite extensive divergence on the details.’
    • ‘He said the company's restructuring plan outline doesn't propose a 10-year freeze on pension improvements.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘All this information will be analyzed and, after as many as 11 drafts, a performance outline will be hammered out.’
    • ‘We shall now present a general outline for a creative brief that addresses these questions.’
    • ‘Here's a short outline of some of the main points so far.’
    • ‘But in the last days, the great outlines of economic proposals have appeared.’
    • ‘First, however, we'll summarize the outline of the book and make a listing of its good points.’
    • ‘I actually prepared a supplementary affidavit which exhibited a draft order, an outline of written submissions and an index of reference in the matter.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘At the meetings, we presented major findings of the study and a proposed outline for the final project report.’
    • ‘I think that the same general outline still applies.’
    • ‘This outline of future plans shows how the area can develop, grow and prosper.’
    • ‘The executive summary is a brief outline of the main points of the plan.’
    • ‘Judging by the main outlines of revenue and expenditure plans, the budget proposal is fairly realistic.’
    • ‘Could you give me a rough outline of your main artistic influences?’
    • ‘The script can be a series of pictures or an actual script, or it could be just a general verbal outline of a scene.’
    rough idea, thumbnail sketch, abbreviated version, summary, synopsis, résumé, precis, abridgement, abstract, reduction, digest
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  • 1Draw, trace, or define the outer edge or shape of.

    ‘her eyes were darkly outlined with kohl’
    • ‘The sky was red, red tinged with oranges and gold and purples and a faint hint of yellow outlining the sun's edge as it blurred into the landscape.’
    • ‘His hair was usually kept low cut and hence it would outline the shape of his head well.’
    • ‘At the very top was a ruined building, outlined against the fading sky.’
    • ‘Natural wood caps the glass and outlines the top edge of the walls to make the room seem bigger than its square footage.’
    • ‘The strings are placed in such a way so as to outline the edge of the two intersecting border rows.’
    • ‘Both band and bib were beaded, although the main design was usually on the bib, which in many cases was cut into eccentric shapes to outline the beaded design.’
    • ‘Her eyes were outlined in thick black eyeliner, contrasting sharply with her pale skin.’
    • ‘The students were asked to outline a shape they thought looked like them, and which shape they would like to look like.’
    • ‘A few students decided to outline their shape as well.’
    • ‘These two sheets were pasted together by outlining the back edge of the drawn fish with glue.’
    • ‘She had pale skin, and her eyes were outlined very thickly in eyeliner.’
    • ‘The links to the useful posts were formerly in the area outlined in red.’
    • ‘A dark black wolf was standing there, outlined against the sky.’
    • ‘Use a black marker to outline the shape and to write scientific or mathematical equations on the bag.’
    • ‘The wind whipped at her skirt pulling the material taut across her calves and thighs, outlining her shape as the marble of a statue.’
    • ‘The noise was Paula opening the door, blue dawn light outlining the frayed edges of her hair.’
    • ‘My headset outlines a dim humanoid shape that I would not normally be able to have seen.’
    • ‘They started putting masking tape on the floor to outline the shapes of machines.’
    • ‘To make your lips look fuller, outline the shape with a soft pencil in the same colour tone as your lipstick.’
    • ‘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
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  • 2Give a summary of.

    ‘she outlined the case briefly’
    • ‘We issued a report outlining the problem and made recommendations on how to solve it.’
    • ‘Further details are likely to be outlined at the public meeting on Sunday.’
    • ‘Could you briefly outline your thoughts on these issues for me?’
    • ‘A leaflet outlining the details of both residents and staff has been circulated to other care homes in the region.’
    • ‘There are a number of reasons for this as outlined earlier in this bulletin.’
    • ‘Brochures outlining the camps are available in the centre and from local primary schools.’
    • ‘Commendably, Iceland have clearly outlined their turnaround plans.’
    • ‘Where, asked counsel, were the documents outlining how the government planned to " manage " that risk?’
    • ‘At the start of each day, a semi-official guide is issued outlining the expected order of business.’
    • ‘He also outlined what was needed to obtain objectives and win the battle.’
    • ‘The limitations are those that are considerably exercised in law, and which are clearly outlined here.’
    • ‘The letter outlines the number of issues concentrated on over the years, many of which have come to a successful conclusion.’
    • ‘It would be completely stupid not to take into account the issues which have been outlined.’
    • ‘Delegates said a statement will be issued later outlining the results of the meetings.’
    • ‘General field methods are described in detail elsewhere and only briefly outlined here.’
    • ‘He sent a flurry of memoranda to Johnson in May and June outlining the issues and his intended actions.’
    • ‘I briefly outlined how I thought we might proceed over the next few days and then we broke.’
    • ‘A report outlining the proposals went to members of the city council's heritage and museum committees this month.’
    • ‘There has also been suggestion that he may issue a statement outlining the purpose of the visit, if he decides to go ahead.’
    • ‘One report outlined why a statewide plan is necessary.’
    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
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