Part of speech: noun
Origin: French, 18th century
A brief evocative description, account, or episode.
A small illustration or portrait photograph which fades into its background without a definite border.
Examples of Vignette in a sentence
"Sandra’s stories from her college years were a perfect vignette of life in the Midwest."
"Ernest Hemingway’s book of untitled vignettes, “In Our Time,” captured life during and after the First World War."
Popularity Over Time
“Vignette” is based on the same word in French, which was composed by fusing “vigne” (meaning “vine”) with the diminutive suffix “-ette,” in order to indicate “little vine.”
Did you Know?
The word “vignette” — meaning “little vine” — was originally used as an architectural term to describe ornamental vine carvings, but was then used in book publishing in the mid-18th century for the botanical-inspired ornamental drawings on chapter headings. Then the term was adopted by artists to describe borderless sketches. By the 20th century, “vignette” was most closely associated with short literary works or anecdotes evocative of a particular time and situation. Such literary vignettes (which can also be described as sketches) are often collected together with similarly themed material, such as in Tim O’Brien’s Vietnam War meditation “The Things They Carried.”