Definition of sketch in English:



  • 1A rough or unfinished drawing or painting, often made to assist in making a more finished picture.

    ‘a charcoal sketch’
    • ‘All that remains of the paintings are the preparatory sketches and photographs of poor quality.’
    • ‘The drawings comprise preparatory sketches and finished sheets.’
    • ‘Her drawings ranged from postcard-sized sketches to works more than 20 feet wide.’
    • ‘During the day his father tried to make as many sketches and oil paintings as possible.’
    • ‘A painter's preparatory sketches and drawings are his work in progress on the way to the ultimate creation.’
    • ‘Since time is not spent on drawing a preliminary sketch, this painting can be finished in one 45-minute class period.’
    • ‘His studio was a montage of photographs, sketches and unfinished paintings.’
    • ‘The drawings and watercolors on exhibit vary from preparatory sketches to finished drawings depicting views in Delft that are still recognizable today.’
    • ‘During his internment in different camps, the artist made about hundred sketches and paintings until his release in 1945.’
    • ‘Roark wearily turned through sheaves of line drawings and pencil sketches spread on the table in front of them.’
    • ‘He makes seemingly endless sketches and paintings of young pixies in bathing suits, skirts, and ninja outfits.’
    • ‘In January 1939, both painting and preparatory sketches were shown at the Whitechapel Art Gallery, where 15,000 people came to see it in the first week.’
    • ‘Many of the images are the artist's own sketches and colored drawings.’
    • ‘For the exhibition Freud has chosen about two hundred oil paintings and sketches, watercolors, and drawings.’
    • ‘The writings, poetry, sketches and drawings of the artist complement selected images.’
    • ‘He left drawings, paintings, easels, sketches and his paints to the nation.’
    • ‘As a result, a well-trained artist does not need a life model or a preparatory sketch to represent a particular subject.’
    • ‘He did this partly because these paintings were intended as sketches for more finished pictures to be done later.’
    • ‘Most oil paintings and pencil sketches portrayed women, classical dancers and children in different perspectives.’
    • ‘Two separate exhibitions focus on the drawings and oil sketches of the Flemish master.’
    drawing, preliminary drawing, outline
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    1. 1.1 A brief written or spoken account or description, giving only basic details.
      ‘a biographical sketch of Ernest Hemingway’
      • ‘Additionally, brief biographical sketches are scattered throughout the book to introduce the reader to the major players in the drama that unfolded at Mobile.’
      • ‘A brief biographical sketch of R.A. Bagnold is largely repeated in a more entertaining entry focused on his scientific contributions.’
      • ‘Interspersed throughout are brief sketches of the lives and works of pioneers like Marconi, Edison, Ben Franklin, and Nicolai Tesla.’
      • ‘He wrote six different sketches embodying different philosophical stances before settling on her ecstatic acceptance of fiery reunion in death with Siegfried.’
      • ‘The authors provide a brief biographical sketch of Patillo and each subsequent pastor.’
      • ‘Well-crafted biographical sketches detail the accomplishments of every significant member of the cast and crew, twelve in all.’
      • ‘A brief biographical sketch of each author is also provided before each selection.’
      • ‘Serious readers will value the digressions spread among the condensed descriptions of famous events and brief biographical sketches.’
      • ‘I was offering a brief biographical sketch of the life of Emmeline Pankhurst!’
      • ‘Stewart published brief biographical sketches of the earliest Scottish chartered accountants in the second half of the 19th century.’
      • ‘Even relatively obscure players are accorded brief biographical sketches if there is sufficient information about them.’
      • ‘This article will provide a brief biographical sketch of Barnes's life and a discussion of his legacy as a Baptist and as a teacher and writer.’
      • ‘The remaining sections provide brief and inadequate sketches of selected topics, with references to the primary literature.’
      • ‘The Carillon has compiled a brief biographical sketch of each of the candidates.’
      outline, brief idea, rundown, run-through, main points, thumbnail sketch, bones, bare bones, skeleton
      description, portrait, vignette, cameo, profile, portrayal, depiction
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    2. 1.2 A rough or unfinished version of any creative work.
      ‘you can see how the first movement evolved from the composer's sketches’
      • ‘After a little while, the two of us had a rough sketch for a song.’
      • ‘I have also met with the painters from both traditions and learnt how the murals evolve from an initial sketch to the creation of the painting that can be several storeys high.’
      • ‘Carson offers sketches of songs, hints at melodies and suggests musical themes, but nothing is forced onto the listener.’
      • ‘I start with melodies, instrumentals, a rough sketch of what the song's going to be.’
      • ‘The soundtrack is obviously a sketch from something.’
      • ‘The best part about my job is… I get to see a creation through from pencil sketch to becoming a 3D object that you can hold and is functional.’
      • ‘They first draw a little sketch then transfer it to the big version by ruling a grid onto the sketch.’
  • 2A short humorous play or performance, consisting typically of one scene in a revue or comedy programme.

    ‘a hilarious sketch for their latest BBC series’
    • ‘We mainly performed one act plays and comedy sketches.’
    • ‘Although the shows sometimes featured short sketches, this was not a comedy show as such.’
    • ‘The problem is that it is nothing more than an extended revue sketch.’
    • ‘The Park Lane Players, performing arts students, will present a number of short plays and sketches around Kirkstall.’
    • ‘The program often includes comedy sketches, political satire and performances by musicians.’
    • ‘A lot of our first class of drama was based around short sketches with small groups of people.’
    • ‘The novelty competition is a lighthearted short drama or comedy sketch.’
    • ‘They'll be the tools in your arts course who try and make a sketch comedy revue.’
    • ‘Pinter's revue sketches have never been marginal doodles.’
    • ‘The various scenes are actually improvisational sketches, with the performers working from a brief plot outline and creating their dialogue on the fly.’
    • ‘It's a trashy, fast-moving comedy and music venture, with the half hour mostly filled by short sketches and occasional musical interludes provided by Snoop and friends.’
    • ‘With actors content to sleepwalk through disjointed sketches as scene after scene goes by, the film gets less and less entertaining.’
    • ‘These ‘plays’ were short sketches about villagers' daily home and working lives.’
    • ‘The movie seems less like a bona-fide movie and more like a series of short comedy sketches connected by a tenuous thread of plot.’
    • ‘When the actors aren't really inhabiting it and imagining, it can feel like a University revue sketch going on for hours.’
    • ‘The episodes are structured like suites of sketches, each short scene comprising a comedic set-up, a droll twist and, more often than not, a punch line.’
    • ‘The film runs like a series of comedy sketches rather than as a comic whole.’
    • ‘In 2003, Comedy Central signed him to appear in his own weekly sketch comedy program.’
    • ‘The programme will include comedy sketches written by group members, physical theatre, contemporary, jazz and salsa dance.’
    • ‘This conversation, I mean this whole situation, is like a comedy sketch about white people.’
    skit, scene, piece, performance, act, item, turn, routine, number
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  • 3dated, informal A comical or amusing person or thing.

    joker, jester, wit, wag, comic, wisecracker, punner, jokester
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[with object]
  • 1Make a rough drawing of.

    ‘as they talked, Modigliani began to sketch her’
    no object ‘Jeanne sketched and painted whenever she had the time’
    • ‘I decided the time was right; I picked up my pencil and began sketching the scene.’
    • ‘The ink drawings sketched on scraps of old wallpaper are suggestive of landscapes.’
    • ‘It gave Emily an excuse to sit at her easel all day, sketching and painting.’
    • ‘As a young child, this prodigy sketched a portrait of his infant niece in the cradle, to the amazement of his family.’
    • ‘Gaia pulled out her drawing pencils and started to sketch the still life that sat on their table.’
    • ‘When not teaching, Crowe began to sketch the scenery around her new home and paint landscapes of the surrounding vistas.’
    • ‘Eventually the policeman produced a pencil and paper and began to sketch something at his desk.’
    • ‘Taking the fragment of charcoal in his right hand, he flipped to a new page in his sketchbook and began to sketch the girl of his dreams.’
    • ‘Rubens sometimes used monochrome techniques in sketching compositions for engravers.’
    • ‘Then he set up the camera and began to sketch the landscape, intending to record the 360-degree view.’
    • ‘She began to sketch a very simple outline of the house.’
    • ‘I sat down with pen and paper and began drawing, and sketched out my design.’
    • ‘Taking up my brush, I began to sketch the pools of light and shadow cast around and on his body.’
    • ‘Rosa picked up a pencil and began to sketch what she had seen.’
    • ‘Taking out a sheet of drawing paper, she sat down at her desk, and began to sketch an image of Jerome from her mind.’
    • ‘She picked up her sketch pad and began sketching the sunset outside the window.’
    • ‘She absent-mindedly turned the sheet over, and started sketching a half scale drawing of Eric's face from memory.’
    • ‘She began sketching out rough lines of a body on her paper, until a boy a year older than Jordan came over.’
    • ‘I finished the drawing I was sketching and placed my pencil back into the exterior of the desk.’
    • ‘He begins that process by sketching an image that he intends to turn into a 3 - D piece of art.’
    draw, make a drawing of, draw a picture of, depict, portray, represent, delineate, pencil
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    1. 1.1sketch something out/in Give a brief account or general outline of something.
      ‘they sketched out the prosecution case’
      • ‘In a further statement released by Lucas, a brief premise has been sketched out for the third prequel.’
      • ‘At one point I had about 40 chapters but I was just sort of sketching them out.’
      • ‘No projected costs were announced for the move, no architectural treatments were sketched out, no public debate about the suitability of the site was engaged in, much less a long overdue debate about the role of the national theatre.’
      • ‘Two parts are done, and the third has been sketched out and waiting for months.’
      • ‘This section seeks to sketch a rough outline of the interests and objectives of the two countries in developing and maintaining bilateral military ties.’
      describe, outline, give a brief idea of, give a rundown of, give a thumbnail sketch of, rough out, block out, trace out, chalk out, map out, delineate, indicate
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    2. 1.2 Perform (a gesture) with one's hands or body.
      ‘he sketched a graceful bow in her direction’
      • ‘He sketched a little bow to the other onlookers before coming back to Jill.’
      • ‘Flipping the rifle over his shoulder, Mattais sketched John a mocking salute.’
      • ‘She sketched a salute and then loped away, a smile flashing over her lips as she did so.’
      • ‘Jay nodded and then turned back, sketching a quick bow to the three outside.’


Mid 17th century: from Dutch schets or German Skizze, from Italian schizzo, from schizzare ‘make a sketch’, based on Greek skhedios ‘done extempore’.