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noun gro·tesque \grō-ˈtesk\

Definition of grotesque

  1. 1 a :  a style of decorative art characterized by fanciful or fantastic human and animal forms often interwoven with foliage or similar figures that may distort the natural into absurdity, ugliness, or caricature b :  a piece of work in this style

  2. 2 :  one that is grotesque

  3. 3 :  sans serif

Examples of grotesque in a sentence

  1. <a gallery of grotesques from some sicko horror movie>

Origin of grotesque

Middle French & Old Italian; Middle French, from Old Italian (pittura) grottesca, literally, cave painting, feminine of grottesco of a cave, from grotta

First Known Use: 1561

Rhymes with grotesque



adjective gro·tesque

Simple Definition of grotesque

  • : very strange or ugly in a way that is not normal or natural

  • : extremely different from what is expected or usual

Source: Merriam-Webster's Learner's Dictionary

Full Definition of grotesque

  1. :  of, relating to, or having the characteristics of the grotesque: as a :  fanciful, bizarre b :  absurdly incongruous c :  departing markedly from the natural, the expected, or the typical

grotesquely adverb
grotesqueness noun

Examples of grotesque in a sentence

  1. The actors wore dark capes and grotesque masks.

  2. a grotesque distortion of the facts

Did You Know?

During the Italian Renaissance, Romans of culture took a great interest in their country's past and began excavating ancient buildings. During their excavations, they uncovered chambers (known in Italian as grotte, in reference to their cavelike appearance) decorated with artwork depicting fantastic combinations of human and animal forms interwoven with strange fruits and flowers. The Italian word grottesca became the name for this unique art style, and by 1561 it had mutated into the English noun "grotesque." The adjective form of "grotesque" was first used in the early 17th century to describe the decorative art but is now used to describe anything bizarre, incongruous, or unusual.


First Known Use of grotesque


Synonym Discussion of grotesque

fantastic, bizarre, grotesque mean conceived, made, or carried out without adherence to truth or reality. fantastic may connote extravagance in conception or ingenuity of decorative invention <dreamed up fantastic rumors>. bizarre applies to the sensationally strange and implies violence of contrast or incongruity of combination <a bizarre medieval castle in the heart of a modern city>. grotesque may apply to what is conventionally ugly but artistically effective or it may connote ludicrous awkwardness or incongruity often with sinister or tragic overtones <grotesque statues on the cathedral> <though grieving, she made a grotesque attempt at a smile>.

GROTESQUE Defined for Kids


adjective gro·tesque \grō-ˈtesk\

Definition of grotesque for Students

  1. :  unnatural in an odd or ugly way

Seen and Heard

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to expose to danger or risk

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