noun bur·lesque \(ˌ)bər-ˈlesk\

: a play, story, novel, etc., that makes a serious subject seem funny or ridiculous

: a kind of entertainment that was popular in the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and that included funny performances, singing, dancing, etc., and sometimes performances in which women took off their clothes

Full Definition of BURLESQUE

:  a literary or dramatic work that seeks to ridicule by means of grotesque exaggeration or comic imitation
:  mockery usually by caricature
:  theatrical entertainment of a broadly humorous often earthy character consisting of short turns, comic skits, and sometimes striptease acts
burlesque adjective
bur·lesque·ly adverb

Examples of BURLESQUE

  1. The book is a burlesque of Victorian society.
  2. a writer whose burlesque often bordered on cruelty
  3. Several important 20th-century performers got their start in burlesque.


burlesque, adjective, comic, droll, from French, from Italian burlesco, from burla joke, from Spanish
First Known Use: 1667

Synonym Discussion of BURLESQUE

caricature, burlesque, parody, travesty mean a comic or grotesque imitation. caricature implies ludicrous exaggeration of the characteristic features of a subject <caricatures of politicians in cartoons>. burlesque implies mockery especially through giving a serious or lofty subject a frivolous treatment <a nightclub burlesque of a trial in court>. parody applies especially to treatment of a trivial or ludicrous subject in the exactly imitated style of a well-known author or work <a witty parody of a popular novel>. travesty implies that the subject remains unchanged but that the style is extravagant or absurd <this production is a travesty of the opera>.

Other Performing Arts Terms

diva, dramaturgy, loge, prestidigitation, proscenium, supernumerary, zany

Rhymes with BURLESQUE



Definition of BURLESQUE

transitive verb
:  to imitate in a humorous or derisive manner :  mock
intransitive verb
:  to employ burlesque
bur·lesqu·er noun

Examples of BURLESQUE

  1. <burlesquing the teacher's nervous tic isn't very nice>

First Known Use of BURLESQUE



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