a simply or hastily executed drawing or painting, especially a preliminary one, giving the essential features without the details.
a rough design, plan, or draft, as of a book.
a brief or hasty outline of facts, occurrences, etc.: a sketch of his life.
a short, usually descriptive, essay, history, or story.
a short play or slight dramatic performance, as one forming part of a vaudeville program.
verb (used with object)
to make a sketch of.
to set forth in a brief or general account: He sketched his own part in the affair.
Metallurgy. (in a steel mill or the like) to mark (a piece) for cutting.
verb (used without object)
to make a sketch or sketches.

1660–70; < Dutch schets (noun) ≪ Italian schizzo < Latin schedium extemporaneous poem, noun use of neuter of schedius extempore < Greek schédios

sketcher, noun
sketchingly, adverb
sketchlike, adjective
resketch, verb (used with object)
unsketched, adjective
well-sketched, adjective

2. outline. 5. skit, act, routine. 6. draw, outline, design, rough out, delineate, represent. See depict. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
sketch (skɛtʃ)
1.  a rapid drawing or painting, often a study for subsequent elaboration
2.  a brief usually descriptive and informal essay or other literary composition
3.  a short play, often comic, forming part of a revue
4.  a short evocative piece of instrumental music, esp for piano
5.  any brief outline
vb (often foll by out)
6.  to make a rough drawing (of)
7.  to make a brief description of
[C17: from Dutch schets, via Italian from Latin schedius hastily made, from Greek skhedios unprepared]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

"rough drawing intended to serve as the bases for a finished picture," 1668, from Du. schets, from It. schizzo "sketch, drawing," lit. "a splash, squirt," from schizzare "to splash or squirt," of uncertain origin, perhaps from L. schedium "an extemporaneous poem," from Gk. skedios "temporary, extemporaneous,"
related to skhein, aor. inf. of ekhein "to have" (see scheme). Ger. Skizze, Fr. esquisse, Sp. esquicio are from Italian. The verb is attested from 1694. Extended sense of "brief account" is from 1668; meaning "short play or performance, usually comic" is from 1789. Sketchy first recorded 1805.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


traditionally a rough drawing or painting in which an artist notes down his preliminary ideas for a work that will eventually be realized with greater precision and detail. The term also applies to brief creative pieces that per se may have artistic merit

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
He would peer at length through the eyepiece, then down at his sketch pad and draw a line or two, then return to the eyepiece.
Clever digital pen lets you sketch a calculator and solve problems or draw a piano keyboard and play music.
Or they sketch a plausible argument but leave out supporting evidence.
Such advances could allow law enforcement to sketch a description from clues in
  a suspect s genes.
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