Meaning of CONTOUR in English

I. ˈkänˌtu̇(ə)r, -tu̇ə noun

( -s )

Etymology: French, modification of Italian contorno, from contornare to surround, sketch in outline, round off, from Latin com- + tornare to turn in a lathe, from tornus lathe — more at turn

1. : the delimitations of a figure:

a. : the drawn or painted outline of a two-dimensional figure

b. : the periphery of a form seen two-dimensionally

the contour of a mountain silhouetted against the sky

c. : shape , form

the contours of a statue

the ominous contours of a ravine

— usually used in plural; used of any irregularly shaped body or uneven surface or curving line

the contours of the shoreline

2. : the individual features or the order or arrangement of features of anything having discernible and usually complex structure — usually used in plural

the contours of a melody

the contours of the plan are beginning to emerge

poetry is a discovery of contours and connections — C.S.Kilby


a. mathematics : a plotted curve : graph

b. : a line or surface at all points of which a certain quantity, otherwise variable, has the same value (as lines of equal elevation on the ground or isothermal surfaces in a heat-conducting solid) : contour line

4. : a sequence of levels of pitch or stress typically extending over several successive words in an utterance

Synonyms: see outline

II. verb

( -ed/-ing/-s )

transitive verb


a. : to draw or shape the contours of

b. : to shape (a thing) to fit the contours of something else

contour the waist of a jacket


a. : to construct (as a road) in conformity to a contour

b. : to cultivate (land) along lines connecting points of equal elevation

c. : to provide (as a map) with contour lines

intransitive verb

: to draw or plot a contour

III. adjective

1. : following the contour lines or running furrows or ridges along the contour lines to retard erosion of sloping land by runoff rainwater

contour plowing

2. : made to fit the contour of something enclosed or contained

contour sheet

Webster's New International English Dictionary.      Новый международный словарь английского языка Webster.