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broad strokes



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An allusion to a manner of painting.


broad strokes pl (plural only)

  1. (idiomatic) Major features or key points; outline.
  2. (idiomatic, especially of a narrative or artistic work) Developments, movements, or descriptions presented in a bold or sweeping manner, without intricacy, adornment, or subtlety.
    • 1914, Booth Tarkington, chapter 14, in Penrod:
      Maurice hastily climbed the fence, and while he was thus occupied Mr. Samuel Williams received a great enlightenment. With startling rapidity Penrod, standing just outside the storeroom door, extended his arm within the room, deposited the licorice water upon the counter of the drug store, seized in its stead the bottle of smallpox medicine, and extended it cordially toward the advancing Maurice.
      Genius is like that—great, simple, broad strokes!
    • 2000 Dec. 1, Julie Salamon, "Television Review: On a New Limb With Shirley MacLaine," New York Times (retrieved 18 Oct 2011):
      While the movie unfolds in broad strokes, Ms. MacLaine treats this character with exquisite sensitivity and without condescension.
    • 2010, James V. Smith, You Can Write a Novel (2nd ed.), →ISBN, p. 55:
      So sketch with broad strokes, dial up the imagery on a few main points, and leave room for a reader to play a part in your novel.

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