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[vin-yet] /vɪnˈyɛt/
a decorative design or small illustration used on the title page of a book or at the beginning or end of a chapter.
an engraving, drawing, photograph, or the like that is shaded off gradually at the edges so as to leave no definite line at the border.
a decorative design representing branches, leaves, grapes, or the like, as in a manuscript.
any small, pleasing picture or view.
a small, graceful literary sketch.
verb (used with object), vignetted, vignetting.
Photography. to finish (a picture, photograph, etc.) in the manner of a vignette.
1745-55; < French: literally, little vine (see vine, -ette); so called from vinelike decorations in early books
Related forms
vignettist, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples from the web for vignettes
  • New this month: garden accents arranged in idea-filled vignettes.
  • All four vignettes have the sense of seeming to end before they should.
  • But he wrote about that too, in poignant, crystalline vignettes about his upbringing and travels.
  • Get ideas for outdoor dining pavilions from detailed vignettes.
  • The vignettes are part of the presale view that starts tomorrow.
  • Virtual spaces mean you can have these little vignettes.
  • Online, days' worth of film has been edited into vignettes lasting several minutes.
  • There are four or five other vignettes in rhyme--all of them small, none of them dazzling.
  • Gotham is filled with engaging vignettes and vivid narratives.
  • Some focus on vignettes, miniature scenes that tell a story.
British Dictionary definitions for vignettes


a small illustration placed at the beginning or end of a book or chapter
a short graceful literary essay or sketch
a photograph, drawing, etc, with edges that are shaded off
(architect) a carved ornamentation that has a design based upon tendrils, leaves, etc
any small endearing scene, view, picture, etc
verb (transitive)
to finish (a photograph, picture, etc) with a fading border in the form of a vignette
  1. to decorate with vignettes
  2. to portray in or as in a vignette
Derived Forms
vignettist, noun
Word Origin
C18: from French, literally: little vine, from vignevine; with reference to the vine motif frequently used in embellishments to a text
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for vignettes



1751, "decorative design," originally a design in the form of vine tendrils around the borders of a book page, especially a picture page, from French vignette, from Old French diminutive of vigne "vineyard" (see vine). Sense transferred from the border to the picture itself, then (1853) to a type of small photographic portrait with blurred edges very popular mid-19c. Meaning "literary sketch" is first recorded 1880, probably from the photographic sense.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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