To set in opposition in order to show or emphasize differences: an essay that contrasts city and country life; contrasted this computer with inferior models. To show differences when compared: siblings who contrast sharply in interests and abilities; a color that contrasted clearly with the dark background. Linguistics To evince a difference that can distinguish meaning: Voiced and voiceless stops contrast in English but not in Cree. The act of contrasting; a setting off of dissimilar entities or objects. The state of being contrasted: red berries standing in vivid contrast against the snow. A difference, especially a strong dissimilarity, between entities or objects compared: the contrast between Northern and Southern speech patterns. One thing that is strikingly dissimilar to another: My new school was a welcome contrast to the one before. The use of opposing elements, such as colors, forms, or lines, in proximity to produce an intensified effect in a work of art. The difference in brightness between the light and dark areas of a picture, such as a photograph or video image. Linguistics A difference between units, especially one that distinguishes meaning.