Definition of calligram in US English:



  • A word or piece of text in which the design and layout of the letters creates a visual image related to the meaning of the words themselves.

    ‘an anonymous artist has transformed Dione's image into a calligram’
    • ‘Arabic calligrams of people and birds are common popular arts of north Africa that are available and sometimes reproduced in Senegal.’
    • ‘This fascinating chapter concludes with a discussion of the compositional arrangement of calligrams based upon the 1913 photograph.’
    • ‘He used compasses and coloured pens to make abstract calligrams or patterns: in this instance to illustrate Thomas's poems.’
    • ‘Dada art was vehemently ephemeral posters, book jackets, calligrams, pamphlets, recitations - as we would expect from a movement made of poets as well as artists.’
    • ‘The sound poetry is one example, but there are also forms of visualisation, forms of visual poetry, whether it's pictograms or forms of writing that many cultures use to form calligrams or to combine with numbers, as in the Hebrew kabbalistic traditions.’


1930s: blend of calligraphy and -gram.