I just want to know the meaning of blueprint.

Some websites say it's a method of printing, some say it merely means a pattern or design used by engineers or architects to document their ideas.

I am really confused. Can someone explain to me the basic intention and meaning that underpins this word? If so, it would be much appreciated.

  • en.wiktionary.org/wiki/blueprint Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 9:33
  • Yes,i have actually read that but it's confusing.Thanks for answer and time.
    – The_Diver
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 9:34
  • In what way? It's a type of printing, a drawing produced by that process, or metaphorically, any detailed plan. Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 9:35
  • """A blueprint is a reproduction of a technical drawing, documenting an architecture or an engineering design, using a contact print process on light-sensitive sheets""" What is contact print process?What is light-sensitive sheet?Well,they make me confuse.
    – The_Diver
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 9:37
  • 1
    Yes - in this case it means a plan, not a physical piece of paper. Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 10:11

5 Answers 5


Originally, a "blueprint" would result when an architect, engineer, or draftsman drew a plan in pencil or ink on thin paper ("velum"), then laid that paper over a sheet of special chemically-treated paper and exposed it to a strong light for several minutes. Upon treatment with ammonia fumes, the chemically-treated paper would turn blue where the light struck it and remain white where the pencil/ink lines blocked the light (ie, it produced a "negative" image). This permitted quickly making accurate reproductions of the original drawing.

Over the years the process was changed such that the image was no longer "negative", and eventually it was replaced with xerographic reproduction, but the term "blueprint" stuck.

Since a blueprint was what, eg, a carpenter referenced when building a house, the term "blueprint" came to mean simply "plan", and it is often used in a metaphorical sense when there is no actual drawing per se. (Eg, "The congressmen conferenced and produced a blueprint for the new tariff law.")


The meanings of words change over time: the original meaning of the word referred to a particular process which only produced monochrome images, and even then they were white and blue. Photocopiers and later CAD systems made the technology obsolete but the word remains.

Now the word refers to a detailed design, often by an architect or engineer; something suitable to give to manufacturing, not the sketch you made on the back of a napkin.

  • Thanks for the answer as well as time!The answer was really enough to enlighten me.So,you are actually saying the word "Blueprint" is now being used to refer to technical drawings made by engineers or architects to make something based on it.Am i right?
    – The_Diver
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 10:36
  • Yes, today people use the word "blueprint" to mean a technical drawing, such as one produced by an architect.
    – PersonX
    Commented Aug 13, 2014 at 14:35
  • The term may also be used to refer to a conceptual plan, even when there are no actual drawings.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 12:04

Blueprint is

  • a contact print of a drawing or other image rendered as white lines on a blue background, especially such a print of an architectural plan or technical drawing.

  • a mechanical drawing produced by any of various similar photographic processes, such as one that creates blue or black lines on a white background.


These are the two simplest definitions:



an early plan or design that explains how something might be achieved:
their blueprint for economic reform

Source: Cambridge Dictionaries Online

a plan that shows how someone will design, build or achieve something

Source: Cambridge Dictionaries Online (Learners)


Its meaning evolved over time. Currently it basically means a detailed plan for any subject.

  • This adds nothing to the existing answers.
    – Chenmunka
    Commented Aug 11, 2015 at 13:41

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.