con·trast (kən-trăst, kŏntrăst′)
v. con·trast·ed, con·trast·ing, con·trasts
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.
1. To show differences when compared: siblings who contrast sharply in interests and abilities; a color that contrasted clearly with the dark background.
2. Linguistics To evince a difference that can distinguish meaning: Voiced and voiceless stops contrast in English but not in Cree.
a. The act of contrasting; a setting off of dissimilar entities or objects.
b. The state of being contrasted: red berries standing in vivid contrast against the snow.
2. A difference, especially a strong dissimilarity, between entities or objects compared: the contrast between Northern and Southern speech patterns.
3. One thing that is strikingly dissimilar to another: My new school was a welcome contrast to the one before.
4. The use of opposing elements, such as colors, forms, or lines, in proximity to produce an intensified effect in a work of art.
5. The difference in brightness between the light and dark areas of a picture, such as a photograph or video image.
6. Linguistics A difference between units, especially one that distinguishes meaning.
[French contraster, from Italian contrastare, from Medieval Latin contrāstāre : Latin contrā-, contra- + Latin stāre, to stand; see stā- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 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.