Definitions

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

  • transitive v. To set in opposition in order to show or emphasize differences: an essay that contrasts city and country life; contrasted this computer with inferior models.
  • intransitive v. To show differences when compared: siblings who contrast sharply in interests and abilities; a color that contrasted clearly with the dark background.
  • intransitive v. Linguistics To evince a difference that can distinguish meaning: Voiced and voiceless stops contrast in English but not in Cree.
  • n. The act of contrasting; a setting off of dissimilar entities or objects.
  • n. The state of being contrasted: red berries standing in vivid contrast against the snow.
  • n. A difference, especially a strong dissimilarity, between entities or objects compared: the contrast between Northern and Southern speech patterns.
  • n. One thing that is strikingly dissimilar to another: My new school was a welcome contrast to the one before.
  • n. The use of opposing elements, such as colors, forms, or lines, in proximity to produce an intensified effect in a work of art.
  • n. The difference in brightness between the light and dark areas of a picture, such as a photograph or video image.
  • n. Linguistics A difference between units, especially one that distinguishes meaning.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A difference in lightness, brightness and/or hue between two colours that makes them more or less distinguishable.
  • n. The degree of this difference.
  • n. A difference between two objects, people or concepts.
  • n. A control on a television, etc, that adjusts the amount of contrast in the images being displayed.
  • n. Antithesis.
  • v. To set in opposition in order to show the difference or differences between.
  • v. To form a contrast.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of contrasting, or the state of being contrasted; comparison by contrariety of qualities.
  • n. Opposition or dissimilitude of things or qualities; unlikeness, esp. as shown by juxtaposition or comparison.
  • n. The opposition of varied forms, colors, etc., which by such juxtaposition more vividly express each other's peculiarities.
  • intransitive v. To stand in opposition; to exhibit difference, unlikeness, or opposition of qualities.
  • transitive v. To set in opposition, or over against, in order to show the differences between, or the comparative excellences and defects of; to compare by difference or contrariety of qualities.
  • transitive v. To give greater effect to, as to a figure or other object, by putting it in some relation of opposition to another figure or object.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To set in opposition, as two or more objects of a like kind, with a view to show their differences; compare by observing differences of character or qualities: used absolutely or followed by with: as, to contrast two pictures or statues; to contrast the style of Dickens with that of Thackeray.
  • In the fine arts, to exhibit the differences or dissimilitude of; heighten the effect of, or show to advantage, by opposition of position, attitude, form, or color.
  • To stand in contrast or opposition; exhibit diversity on comparison.
  • n. Opposition; dispute.
  • n. Opposition in respect of certain qualities; antagonistic difference; direct opposition: as, the contrasts and resemblances of the seasons.
  • n. Comparison by exhibiting the dissimilitude or the contrariety of qualities in the things compared; the placing of opposites together in order to make the antagonism of their qualities more apparent.
  • n. In the fine arts, opposition of varied forms or colors, which by juxtaposition magnify the effect of one another's peculiarities.
  • n. In psychological optics, the reciprocal induction of colors and brightnesses in the present field of regard.
  • n. In psychology, generally, any supposed intensification or throwing into relief by juxtaposition with an opposite.

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

  • n. the range of optical density and tone on a photographic negative or print (or the extent to which adjacent areas on a television screen differ in brightness)
  • v. put in opposition to show or emphasize differences
  • n. the opposition or dissimilarity of things that are compared
  • n. the act of distinguishing by comparing differences
  • v. to show differences when compared; be different
  • n. the perceptual effect of the juxtaposition of very different colors
  • n. a conceptual separation or distinction

Etymologies

French contraster, from Italian contrastare, from Medieval Latin contrāstāre : Latin contrā-, contra- + Latin stāre, to stand; see stā- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From French contraster, from Italian contrastare ("to resist", "to withstand"), from Vulgar Latin, from Latin contra ("against") + stare ("to stand") (Wiktionary)

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