1. the line by which a figure or object is defined or bounded; contour.
  2. a drawing or sketch restricted to line without shading or modeling of form.
  3. a general sketch, account, or report, indicating only the main features, as of a book, subject, or project: an outline of medieval history; an outline of a speech.
  4. outlines, the essential features or main aspects of something under discussion: At the first meeting, we gave her only the outlines of the project.
  5. Printing. an ornamented type in which the outside contours of each character appear in black, with the inside left white.

verb (used with object), out·lined, out·lin·ing.

  1. to draw the outline of, or draw in outline, as a figure or object.
  2. to give an outline of; sketch the main features of: On the first day, the professor just outlined the course for us.


  1. a preliminary or schematic plan, draft, account, etc
  2. (usually plural) the important features of an argument, theory, work, etc
  3. the line by which an object or figure is or appears to be bounded
    1. a drawing or manner of drawing consisting only of external lines
    2. (as modifier)an outline map

verb (tr)

  1. to draw or display the outline of
  2. to give the main features or general idea of

v.1790, “to draw in outline,” from outline (n.). Meaning “to describe in general terms” is from 1855. Related: Outlined; outlining. n.1660s, “lines by which a figure is delineated,” from out + line (v.). Meaning “rough draft in words” is from 1759.

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