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 plural childish 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 antic (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 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 On an app that often privileges the antic, Mr. Boutilier’s anti-takes became a wry course correction. New York Times, 8 July 2021 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, 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, 27 Mar. 2020 Duff said in a clip with a laugh at her daughter’s antics. Ashley Boucher,, 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,, 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,, 11 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective All of these conflicts, and many more, are depicted with comedy ranging from wry to antic, from sotto voce to turbulently physical. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, 4 Oct. 2021 His antic ads for the Little Caesars pizza chain included one in which a pizza box turns into a pterodactyl. James R. Hagerty, WSJ, 30 Sep. 2021 In a career of nearly 40 years, Mr. Freeman’s antic sense of humor made brands stand out — first at the advertising agency Dancer Fitzgerald Sample and then, starting in 1987, at his own small agency, Cliff Freeman & Partners. New York Times, 24 Sep. 2021 The first is social play, which is any kind of antic that involves others. Caitlin O'connell, Scientific American, 1 Aug. 2021 The antic atmosphere inside Lusco’s on a Friday in June was reminiscent of the days not long ago when Greenwood became a culinary destination, thanks largely to the influence of the Viking Range Corporation. New York Times, 16 Aug. 2021 And Reynolds is still very much on brand in his familiar screen mode as the antic joker who serves up one-liners like they're being pinged from a ball machine. Leah Greenblatt,, 5 Aug. 2021 Eleanor Bron and William Daniels show up at just the perfect time for some antic comic relief. Washington Post, 31 July 2021 But the greater focus here, like scrutinizing an antic Hogarth painting, yields marvelous and rewarding detail. Steve Donoghue, The Christian Science Monitor, 6 July 2021

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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Last Updated

21 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Antic.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on antic

Nglish: Translation of antic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of antic for Arabic Speakers


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