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Probably from Dutch stippel (small dot), originally applied to the dots themselves and later to the technique.


stipple (countable and uncountable, plural stipples)

  1. The use of small dots that give the appearance of shading; the dots thus used.



stipple (third-person singular simple present stipples, present participle stippling, simple past and past participle stippled)

  1. (transitive) To use small dots to give the appearance of shading to.
    • c. 1760, Oliver Goldsmith, The citizen of the world: or, letters from a Chinese philosopher, residing in London, to his friends in the east, Letter 48,[1]
      Don’t you think, Major Vampyre, that eye-brow stippled very prettily?
    • 1851, John Ruskin, Pre-Raphaelitism, New York: John Wiley, p. 50,[2]
      The worst drawings that have ever come from [ Turner’s] hands are some of this second period, on which he has spent much time and laborious thought; drawings filled with incident from one side to the other, with skies stippled into morbid blue, and warm lights set against them in violent contrast []
    • 1922, T. E. Lawrence, Seven Pillars of Wisdom, Chapter 41,[3]
      There were no footmarks on the ground, for each wind swept like a great brush over the sand surface, stippling the traces of the last travellers till the surface was again a pattern of innumerable tiny virgin waves.
    • 1922, Sinclair Lewis, Babbitt, Chapter 10,[4]
      Outside the car window was a glaze of darkness stippled with the gold of infrequent mysterious lights.
    • 1966, “Charisma, Calluses and Cash,” Time, 14 October, 1966,[5]
      The biennial profusion of campaign billboards and posters stipples the land that Lady Bird wants to beautify and Lyndon yearns to own.
    • 1988, Edmund White, The Beautiful Room is Empty, New York: Vintage International, 1994, Chapter Five,
      Although he was clean-shaven, black Benday dots traced the narrow pathway of his thin mustache and the stippled edge of his jaw.