Weekly Word: Vignette

A flower vignette

A vignette can be “any small, pleasing picture or view”, but it also means “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”. It can also refer to “a decorative design representing branches, leaves, grapes, or the like”, or any “small illustration used on the title page of a book or at the beginning or end of a chapter”.

As a verb, to vignette means “to soften the edges of (a picture) in vignette style” or “to describe in a brief way”.

As if it that isn’t enough, Wikipedia’s entry on Vignette lists even more meanings. In literature, a vignette is a short scene. In viniculture, it’s a type of vineyard.

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, vignette was “originally a design in the form of vine tendrils around the borders of a book page”. The word comes from French, stemming from the Old French word vigne, meaning vineyard.