Etymology
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contrast (v.)

1690s, "to set in opposition with a view to show the differences; to stand in opposition or contrast; to set off (each other) by contrast," from French contraster (Old French contrester), modified by or from Italian contrastare "stand out against, strive, contend," from Vulgar Latin *contrastare "to stand opposed to, withstand," from Latin contra "against" (see contra) + stare "to stand," from PIE root *sta- "to stand, make or be firm."

Middle English had contrest "to fight against, to withstand," which became extinct. The modern word is a 17c. re-introduction as a term in fine arts, on the notion of "to exhibit differences or heighten effect by opposition of position, form, color, etc." Related: Contrasted; contrasting; contrastive.

contrast (n.)

1711, "comparison by exhibiting the dissimilar or contrary qualities in the things compared," from contrast (v.). From 1764 as "that which shows striking difference from another when compared to it," also "opposition in respect of certain qualities."

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Definitions of contrast
1
contrast (n.)
the opposition or dissimilarity of things that are compared;
by contrast
in contrast to
Synonyms: direct contrast
contrast (n.)
the act of distinguishing by comparing differences;
contrast (n.)
a conceptual separation or distinction;
Synonyms: line / dividing line / demarcation
contrast (n.)
the perceptual effect of the juxtaposition of very different colors;
contrast (n.)
the range of optical density and tone on a photographic negative or print (or the extent to which adjacent areas on a television screen differ in brightness);
2
contrast (v.)
put in opposition to show or emphasize differences;
The middle school teacher contrasted her best student's work with that of her weakest student
contrast (v.)
to show differences when compared; be different;
the students contrast considerably in their artistic abilities
Synonyms: counterpoint
From wordnet.princeton.edu