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1. A small picture that presents a smaller version of a larger image or proposed image. Before fully redesigning the layout of the office, the interior designer provided me with a thumbnail sketch of his initial plans.
2. A short description or preview. Class, each of you will need to submit a thumbnail sketch of your essay topic for my approval.
sketch something in
to draw in the image of someone or something. I sketched a figure of a woman in so that she appears to be standing beneath the tree. I'll sketch in the house in the upper left corner.
See also: sketch
sketch something out
to create a rough idea or image of something by sketching or some other means. (Does not necessarily require an actual sketch.) Sally sketched the furniture arrangement out so we could get an idea of what it was to look like. Would you sketch out your ideas, please?
a thumbnail sketch
a brief or small picture or description. The manager gave a thumbnail sketch of her plans. The student wrote a thumbnail sketch of his project.
sketch out somethingalso sketch in something
to describe something in a general way Dean sketched out a rough plan of where we should go and what we should see while we were there. The president sent the defense secretary to the Senate today to sketch in details of the program.
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of sketch (to draw quickly and with only a few details)
A brief outline or cursory description, as in Let me give you a thumbnail sketch of the situation. This idiom alludes to drawing a picture no larger than a thumbnail. [Mid-1800s]
1. To add a hasty or undetailed drawing or painting of something to a larger work: The artist sketched in the leaves before painting. We finished sketching the margins in.
2. To give a general account or presentation of some aspect of a larger idea: The staff sketched in the details of the proposal. We sat down and sketched the fine points in.
See also: sketch
1. To make a hasty or undetailed drawing or painting of something, often as a preliminary study: The architect sketched out a couple of ideas on a napkin. I sketched the figure out with pencil before I started painting.
2. To give a brief general account or presentation of something; outline something: The president sketched out her plan for the following year. Before I started writing my paper, I sat down and sketched my ideas out.
3. Slang To cause someone to experience an odd, unusual, and sometimes uneasy sensation: Their strange customs sketched out the visitors. His creepy smile sketched us out.
n. a quick and concise description. (One that could be written on someone’s thumbnail.) Let me give you a thumbnail sketch of what happened.