an·​tic | \ˈan-tik \

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 \-​ti-​k(ə-​)lē \ 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


we'll have no more of your antics, so just settle down

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Forced to serve a year for the kind of on-screen antics that are common in American media, her story and Youssef’s hammer home a sobering point. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "Rania Youssef Is the Egyptian Actress Who Faced Obscenity Charges Over a Dress," 4 Dec. 2018 Someone with this zodiac sign will surely enjoy watching the antics that a rebellious young boy named Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley) gets himself into. Marilyn La Jeunesse, Teen Vogue, "The Best Christmas Movies to Watch According to Your Zodiac Sign," 26 Nov. 2018 The reach of Russia’s social-media antics appeared to be much narrower than in 2016. Robert Mcmillan, WSJ, "Russian Hackers Largely Skipped the Midterms, and No One Really Knows Why," 12 Nov. 2018 LONG hours have been the bane of the legal profession for ages; few of them involve thrilling courtroom antics. The Economist, "Law firms climb aboard the AI wagon," 12 July 2018 Well, KFC of South Africa put a hilarious twist on Neymar's antics. Jim Reineking, USA TODAY, "Neymar's World Cup flopping gets mocked in KFC commercial in South Africa," 5 July 2018 Media: Harlem Globetrotters, Houston Chronicle A Harlem Globetrotters star joined the Houston Astros' mascot Orbit at Minute Maid Park for some fun basketball antics in preparation for a series of games in the Houston area. Fernando Alfonso Iii, Houston Chronicle, "Astros welcome Globetrotters star to Minute Maid Park for epic trick shot," 2 July 2018 The neighbor’s antics may backfire in another way, too. New York Times, "How to Stop That Unruly Neighbor From Ruining Your Sale," 30 June 2018 Cuban has also taken issue with the King's in-game antics. Peter Dawson, star-telegram, "Where do the Mavs rank among teams pursuing LeBron James? Here's what oddsmakers say," 11 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The sketch showcases Burnett at her sharpest and most antic during her earliest years on TV. Tom Keogh, The Seattle Times, "Carol Burnett comes to Seattle to banter, answer questions — and possibly do the Tarzan yell," 9 Oct. 2018 The Chelsea midfielder targeted Gerard Pique as the main culprit, and also went on to tell of another antic which had the Barcelona defender's name written all over it., "6 of the Biggest Pranksters in Football," 17 June 2018 Real life does not always lend itself to dramatic adaptation, but Davies and Frears manage to make of it something both thoughtful and antic, historical but only in the brief asides a history lesson. Robert Lloyd,, "Hugh Grant has a killer role in Amazon's 'A Very English Scandal'," 28 June 2018 Its signature moment occurs not during the re-enactment of the inept crime, or its planning and antic aftermath. Michael O’sullivan, kansascity, "‘American Animals’: True crime that’s entertaining and profound," 21 June 2018 Queen Elizabeth II's eldest great-grandchild, Savannah Phillips, just confirmed her status as the most savage member of the royal family after pulling off another antic with her four-year-old cousin Prince George over the weekend. Isabel Greenberg, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince George Was Pushed Down a Hill By His Cousin Savannah Phillips, the Most Savage Royal," 13 June 2018 Bullwinkel’s style shifts from story to story, occasionally antic but more often than not hilariously deadpan. Michael Berry, San Francisco Chronicle, "Science fiction and fantasy books: ‘Belly Up,’ ‘What Should Be Wild,’ ‘84K’," 7 June 2018 The performance is introduced and regularly interrupted, in Italian, by Francesca Sara Toich as an antic deep-voiced commedia-style clown. Christopher Arnott,, "A Mesmerizing 'Merchant Of Venice' As Arts & Ideas Hits Its Stride," 21 June 2018 While these pieces are targeting the influential social media audience, the move toward more colorful and graphically antic clothing might confound men who spend more time staring at spreadsheets than at their Instagram feeds. Jacob Gallagher, WSJ, "Instagram Is Changing the Way Men Dress...for the Worse?," 30 May 2018

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


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


see antic entry 1

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Statistics for antic

Last Updated

12 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for antic

The first known use of antic was in 1529

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More Definitions for antic



English Language Learners Definition of antic

: very playful, funny, or silly


an·​tic | \ˈan-tik \

Kids Definition of antic

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on antic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with antic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for antic

Spanish Central: Translation of antic

Nglish: Translation of antic for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of antic for Arabic Speakers

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