outline  /ˈaʊtˌlaɪn/   noun

1 a [count: a drawing or picture that shows only the shape of an object — often followed by of

  • An outline of his face showed his high forehead, long nose, and small chin.
  • Outlines of animals were carved into the cave’s walls.

1 b [noncount: a style of drawing in which only the outer edges of an object are shown

  • The pictures were drawn in outline and then filled in with color.

2 [count: a line that is drawn around the edges of something

  • The leaves etched into the vase have a gold outline.

3 : [count] a written list or description of only the most important parts of an essay, speech, plan, etc.

  • Organize your essay by writing an outline in which you state your main idea followed by your supporting points.
  • a plot outline


  • a brief outline of American history
  • Her speech was written in outline on note cards.