a. The outline of a figure, body, or mass. See Synonyms at form.
b. A line that represents such an outline. See Synonyms at outline.
2. A contour line.
a. A varying characteristic or quality of something, such as a melody.
b. Linguistics The distinctive rising and falling patterns of pitch, tone, or stress.
tr.v. con·toured, con·tour·ing, con·tours
1. To make or shape the outline of; represent in contour.
2. To build (a road, for example) to follow the contour of the land.
1. Following the contour lines of uneven terrain to limit erosion of topsoil: contour plowing.
2. Shaped to fit the outline or form of something: a contour sheet.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.