Definition of stipple in US English:



[with object]
  • 1(in drawing, painting, and engraving) mark (a surface) with numerous small dots or specks.

    ‘to finish, stipple the picture with the original base colour’
    • ‘Shearing surfaces are shown with a pattern of short grey lines, while broad crushing surfaces are stippled in grey.’
    • ‘I over-stamped the Small Leaf with gold ink randomly on the frame, stamped the Dots and then stippled some color along the edges.’
    • ‘The flattened back strap and grip surfaces were stippled and coated in OD, as was the slide, which was fitted with AmeriGlo's triple-tritium dot, ghostring-and-post sight set.’
    • ‘I demonstrated first and then had the students try painting exercises such as stippling, wash, wet wash, glazing, scrubbing and applying strokes with the point, side and heel of the brush.’
    • ‘Given an obfuscatory title and presented in the gallery as a photographic triptych with arty cursive and stippled lines all over it, the work defied interpretation but invited formal analysis.’
    • ‘Often, too, she uses a stippled line that releases the contour of an object from the burden of carrying the whole depiction.’
    • ‘I finally regained my sanity and stippled gold and copper acrylic paint on the back of each piece.’
    • ‘The artist's deftly stippled, textured works resemble blurry travel photographs of exotic locales, snapshots taken in a time before mass tourism and Club Med.’
    • ‘Using two small jewelry tags, stipple using olive and brown inks.’
    • ‘To add depth, stipple the card stock with black ink.’
    • ‘The intaglio printmaking techniques are engraving, drypoint, etching, aquatint, stipple, mezzotint and are discussed in part two of this article.’
    • ‘A wide variety of decorative painting techniques such as sponging, rag-rolling, and stippling can add a creative touch to your project.’
    • ‘The molded grip has a combination of stippling and checkering, in addition to finger grooves, while the matte black finish of the entire gun enhances its ‘real firearm’ looks.’
    • ‘By the mid-'60s, rather than painting dots by hand or stippling them with a dog-grooming brush as in some of his earlier works, he began to employ a dot stencil that he made by drilling holes in a sheet of aluminum.’
    • ‘Texture the Copper clay by stippling with the ball tip stylus.’
    • ‘Occasionally producing abstracted images of mesmeric beauty, constituted by surfaces overlaid with countless dots and stippling influenced by both Zulu beadwork and Impressionism, he is, however, also prone to awkward figuration.’
    • ‘The exposed gold could then be stippled or grained to suggest the shimmer of the threads of the textile.’
    • ‘Alex said that he paints during his sleepless periods and is at work on a large canvas depicting a car using using a stippling technique.’
    • ‘I like to stipple the black paint with a green paint to produce a nice camouflaged body.’
    • ‘Charcoal shading adds the depth and substance, and Mark's hair is stippled in to give the ‘cropped’ look.’
    dot, spot, mark, fleck, streak, speck, speckle, bespeckle, mottle, marble
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    1. 1.1 Produce a decorative effect on (paint or other material) by roughening its surface when it is wet.
      • ‘The tip is painted fluorescent orange whilst the body is stippled using a piece of sponge with emerald green.’
      • ‘I remember waking up one cold and frosty Christmas morning, and after drawing back the blackout curtains the light shone on to the pale green stippled walls of my bedroom, and I saw my stocking hanging on the corner of the fireplace (no fire).’
      • ‘Additional colors can be incorporated into the color scheme by stippling the paint or wash on, rather than off.’
      • ‘It also came with built-in wardrobes - the louvred kind - stippled ceilings and woodchip wallpaper, which all seemed so smart and modern in 1978.’
      • ‘Instead, I peered up at my ceiling which I'd stippled myself.’
      • ‘The yellow ochre stippled walls inside and the cream with green accents outside on the verandah all help to produce a warm and inviting ambience.’
      • ‘The body is then stippled with a sponge soaked in black paint to give the body a mottled effect.’
      • ‘We stipple it on sparingly with a small paint brush and finish off with a soft brush - but there must never be a hole in it, lest a loose thread catches and causes damage.’
      pat, press, touch, blot, mop, swab, smudge
      View synonyms


  • The process or technique of stippling a surface, or the effect so created.

    • ‘Josephine bought the pictures in 1807 and had them reproduced as hand-colored stipple engravings, which were then bound along with descriptions of the plants by a member of the Institut de France.’
    • ‘Some types of stipple rollers are actually covered with stiff, low-nap carpet.’
    • ‘He developed a drawing method using carbon dust and a stipple board technique.’
    • ‘This lamp, with over 575 pieces, is made with a combination of stipple glass, waterglass and rippled cathedral glass.’
    • ‘In this example we have used light blue with black stipple but I prefer to use a green background paint with black stippling.’
    • ‘He struck up a partnership with Cipriani and Angelica, and their repertoire of bloodless mythological scenes adorned with dimpled putti is synonymous with the art, despite the many portraits engraved in stipple.’
    • ‘This flattering straight cut coat is stipple quilted in 2 lengths, one just below the knee and one to above the ankle.’
    • ‘Star exhibit at Caxton Prints will be a set of twelve stipple engravings depicting the progress of the Irish linen manufacture.’
    • ‘The technique of stipple goes back to the fifteenth century.’
    • ‘Lane's technique is stipple, a succession of dots that form an image.’
    • ‘Mix and apply bonding coat to the surface of the brickwork by brush stipple.’
    • ‘My wife came with us last week, which is quite rare, since Frank and I have a tendency either to sit around discussing the exact stipple technique he used in the 1720s.’
    • ‘Using a stipple brush, apply metallic gold acrylic paint to edges and design of stamp to add highlights.’
    • ‘The adapter learned from his informant that each regular stipple of the Phoenician consonantal alphabet represented a particular recurrent syllable of the Phoenician language.’


Mid 17th century: from Dutch stippelen, frequentative of stippen ‘to prick’, from stip ‘a point’.