[ verb kuhn-trast, kon-trast; noun kon-trast ]
/ verb kənˈtræst, ˈkɒn træst; noun ˈkɒn træst /

verb (used with object)

to compare in order to show unlikeness or differences; note the opposite natures, purposes, etc., of: Contrast the political rights of Romans and Greeks.

verb (used without object)

to exhibit unlikeness on comparison with something else; form a contrast.
Linguistics. to differ in a way that can serve to distinguish meanings: The sounds (p) and (b) contrast in the words “pin” and “bin.”


Origin of contrast

1480–90; (verb) < Middle French contraster < Italian contrastare to contest < Latin contrā- contra-1 + stāre to stand; (noun) earlier contraste < French < Italian contrasto conflict, derivative of contrastare



compare contrast (see usage note at compare)

Example sentences from the Web for contrast

British Dictionary definitions for contrast


verb (kənˈtrɑːst)

(often foll by with) to distinguish or be distinguished by comparison of unlike or opposite qualities

noun (ˈkɒntrɑːst)

distinction or emphasis of difference by comparison of opposite or dissimilar things, qualities, etc (esp in the phrases by contrast, in contrast to or with)
a person or thing showing notable differences when compared with another
(in painting) the effect of the juxtaposition of different colours, tones, etc
  1. (of a photographic emulsion) the degree of density measured against exposure used
  2. the extent to which adjacent areas of an optical image, esp on a television screen or in a photographic negative or print, differ in brightness
psychol the phenomenon that when two different but related stimuli are presented close together in space and/or time they are perceived as being more different than they really are

Derived forms of contrast

Word Origin for contrast

C16: (n): via French from Italian, from contrastare (vb), from Latin contra- against + stare to stand