1 of 2


an·​tic ˈan-tik How to pronounce antic (audio)
: an attention-drawing, often wildly playful or funny act or action : caper
usually plural
childish antics
archaic : a performer of a grotesque or ludicrous part : buffoon


2 of 2


: characterized by clownish extravagance or absurdity
an antic farce
: whimsically lighthearted : frolicsome
Gelbart's intelligence is antic and playful.Lloyd Rose
archaic : grotesque, bizarre
antically 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."

Example Sentences

Noun we'll have no more of your antics, so just settle down
Recent Examples on the Web
The latest partisan antic of Ohio’s most controversial Congressman, Jim Jordan, is to take aim at a fellow Ohioans serving in Washington. Laura Johnston, cleveland, 30 Nov. 2022 Midler in particular seems to delight in every over-the-top antic, including one in which Winifred tries to navigate her way past a set of automatic doors. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 1 Oct. 2022 Unsurprisingly, Voice fans couldn't enough of Blake's latest antic. Adrianna Freedman, Good Housekeeping, 25 Sep. 2022 That’s prime territory for Sandler these days, who has over the years calmed his antic ‘SNL’ blare into thoughtful world-weariness. Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times, 10 June 2022 None of us relish being the butt of an unethical antic that does a proverbial pulling of the wool over our eyes. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 25 Apr. 2022 The adult ought to have more common sense than to tell a teen to do this perilous antic. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 29 Dec. 2021 Like Moulton’s previous antics, the latest antic may just be met with eyerolls and, yes, television time., 25 Aug. 2021 From Moulton’s perspective, the risk-reward dynamic of this latest antic was more favorable than not., 25 Aug. 2021
Director Peyton Reed's antic 2018 followup, Ant-Man and the Wasp, went bigger and busier — and ultimately duller, as sequels do. Leah Greenblatt,, 17 Feb. 2023 The conspiracy to rescue Justin and Tereza from Trey’s moralistic ire involves Steven, Magdalena and Katrina in an escape plan that plays like an antic caper. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, 16 Feb. 2023 The series is filled with extravagant (and sometimes far-fetched) byways, sharp satirical observations, and comedic performances that range from antic to caustic, from self-deprecating to moralizing. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 25 Jan. 2023 And yet it’s made with exuberance, an embrace of the absurd and antic, undaunted joy. Sebastian Smee, Washington Post, 16 Dec. 2022 But Wilson’s mission turns out to be outwitting the trauma-plot trap, and doing that with antic energy. Stephanie Hayes, The Atlantic, 2 Dec. 2022 There’s antic comedy in the couple’s playful jibing and theatrical Brooklynese. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 18 Oct. 2022 These immigrants, the ones who weren’t brought here in chains, turned entrepreneurial, disordered, antic, religiously zealous, morally charged, messianic, and perpetually restless. David Brooks, The Atlantic, 31 Oct. 2022 Fairytale and Mother Goose characters run amok in this movie, making for lots of antic action, but the central story also revolves around the romance between Mary Contrary (Anette Funicello) and Tom Piper (Tommy Sands). Marisa Lascala, Good Housekeeping, 23 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


Noun and Adjective

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

First Known Use


1564, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1536, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of antic was in 1536


Dictionary Entries Near antic

Cite this Entry

“Antic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
an·​tic ˈant-ik How to pronounce antic (audio)
: a wildly playful or funny act or action


2 of 2 adjective
: wildly playful : frolicsome

More from Merriam-Webster on antic

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