an·​tic | \ ˈan-tik How to pronounce antic (audio) \

Definition of antic

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : an attention-drawing, often wildly playful or funny act or action : caper usually pluralchildish antics
2 archaic : a performer of a grotesque or ludicrous part : buffoon



Definition of antic (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : characterized by clownish extravagance or absurdity an antic farce
b : whimsically lighthearted : frolicsome Gelbart's intelligence is antic and playful.— Lloyd Rose
2 archaic : grotesque, bizarre

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Other Words from antic


antically \ ˈan-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce antically (audio) \ adverb

Did You Know?


When Renaissance Italians began exploring the ancient Roman ruins around them, they discovered fantastic mural paintings that they called grottesca (which means "grotesques," a name given to the paintings because they were found in caves, or grotte). Because they were so old, the murals were also called antichi, or "ancient things." English speakers adopted antichi, modifying it to antike or anticke, and eventually any behavior or dress reminiscent of the kind depicted in the Roman murals became known as an antic. Within 20 years of its earliest recorded uses as a noun, antic began appearing as an English adjective. Originally, it meant "grotesque" or "bizarre" (a sense now considered archaic), but today it means "playful, funny, or absurd" and the noun means "an often wildly playful or funny act."

Examples of antic in a Sentence

Noun we'll have no more of your antics, so just settle down
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Ryan Reynolds, Deadpool star and resident dad-joke machine, just pulled another antic on his family, this time for Father's Day. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, "Ryan Reynolds Teases His Family in a Father's Day–Themed Aviation Gin Ad," 23 June 2020 Barbara’s antics lead her to be stung by a nasty horde of bees and then, horror of horrors, to endure the unsightly welts that blossom on her face, rendering her physically unbecoming, at least temporarily. Longreads, "“The Leaky Vessel”: On Lewis Carroll and the Perils of Being Female," 27 Mar. 2020 Duff said in a clip with a laugh at her daughter’s antics. Ashley Boucher,, "Hilary Duff Says 13-Month-Old Daughter Banks Ate Dirt While Taking Thanksgiving Family Selfie," 29 Nov. 2019 Generally, a team looks the other way and ignores such antics as long as the on-field production warrants it, then moves on when the headaches outweigh the gratification of the football results. Mark Maske,, "The Raiders are experiencing the full force of Antonio Brown’s diva receiver act," 11 Aug. 2019 Generally, a team looks the other way and ignores such antics as long as the on-field production warrants it, then moves on when the headaches outweigh the gratification of the football results. Mark Maske,, "Analysis: The Raiders are experiencing the full force of Antonio Brown’s diva act," 11 Aug. 2019 Baffert said of Improbable’s antics in the starting gate. Stephen Whyno, The Seattle Times, "War of Will wins Preakness featuring riderless running horse," 19 May 2019 Here’s to 150 more episodes of the Baxter family’s antics! Megan Stein, Country Living, "Eagle-Eyed Fans Call Out Tim Allen for This 'Last Man Standing' Photo," 1 Mar. 2019 But that isn’t enough for the media and Democrats because Republicans refused to let Mr. Trump’s antics interfere with accomplishing their legislative goals. The Editorial Board, WSJ, "A Check on Trump? Good Luck," 5 Nov. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective The macabre scene—just as quickly revealed to be a fiction, the trickery of which is eventually displayed—is only the first, and neither the least gruesome nor the least antic nor the least mournful, of the movie’s preënactments of Johnson’s death. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "“Dick Johnson Is Dead”: A Daughter’s Exuberant Collaboration with Her Dying Father," 1 Oct. 2020 The director, Richard Lester, making his feature debut, and the screenwriter, Alun Owen, perfectly understood how to display the antic energy of the Fab Four. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, "Home theater: Bring the family together with the Beatles and ‘Babe’," 30 Sep. 2020 The antic Schwitters, by contrast, barks like a dog, sleeps in a basket and, for lack of better material, makes sculptures out of porridge that then molder and turn green. Peter Saenger, WSJ, "Novelist Ali Smith Finds Art for All Seasons," 25 Sep. 2020 DeBeauvoir relied on Ben, her polymath husband, as a sounding board and a source of antic brainstorms. Benjamin Wofford, Wired, "A Texas County Clerk’s Bold Crusade to Transform How We Vote," 15 Sep. 2020 The sense is reinforced by the film’s ending, a nearly antic scene of exuberant public craftsmanship and social principle. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "What to Stream: “Sicilia!”," 5 Sep. 2020 The clamor of death in this untamed landscape is both sexualized and antic. Anne Enright, The New York Review of Books, "Wanting Wrong," 6 July 2020 Over the years, BigHat has done hilarious, deadpan video lectures, demonstrations, and antic performances, collaborating... Karen Wilkin, WSJ, "The Art of FaceTime Portraiture," 15 June 2020 Its value is in the heady mix of high and low, the antic yet clear-eyed take on race relations, the parade of tragic and comic bit players, and above all, the unleashed chattering of Chungpa’s distinctive voice. Ed Park, The New York Review of Books, "Like No One They’d Ever Seen," 8 Apr. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'antic.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of antic


1529, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1548, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for antic

Noun and Adjective

Italian antico ancient thing or person, from antico ancient, from Latin antiquus — more at antique

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Time Traveler for antic

Time Traveler

The first known use of antic was in 1529

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Cite this Entry

“Antic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for antic



English Language Learners Definition of antic

: very playful, funny, or silly


an·​tic | \ ˈan-tik How to pronounce antic (audio) \

Kids Definition of antic

: a wildly playful or funny act or action We laughed at the kitten's antics.

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