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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
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 On an app that often privileges the antic, Mr. Boutilier’s anti-takes became a wry course correction. New York Times, 8 July 2021
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 The novel is an antic caper about a mathematician, Wala Kitu, whose name translates to Nothing Nothing and who studies the concept of nothing. Asali Solomon, Washington Post, 3 Nov. 2022 Has the Justice Department learned nothing from 2016, when the FBI’s incompetent and antic meddling likely caused Hillary Clinton’s loss? Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, 9 Aug. 2022 This playfully antic storytelling is complemented by a wild tombola of directorial technique from Begić, a filmmaker usually inclined toward poise and naturalism. Guy Lodge, Variety, 17 Aug. 2022 Thoroughly taken with its own antic almost-cleverness, the movie is a grisly post-millennial whodunit, graced with actors who are reliably good whether they’re being slashed, bludgeoned or reduced to cheap satirical punchlines. Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times, 4 Aug. 2022 But where walking simulators were generally melancholy, The Stanley Parable was antic. Gabriel Winslow-yost, The New York Review of Books, 3 Aug. 2022 Fellini’s early films as a director were in a neorealist mode but had a buoyancy and antic air that suggested a different direction. Glenn Kenny,, 1 June 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 26 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

antic 1 of 2


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


2 of 2


: wildly playful : frolicsome

More from Merriam-Webster on antic

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