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ar·​a·​besque ˌa-rə-ˈbesk How to pronounce arabesque (audio)
: an ornament or style that employs flower, foliage, or fruit and sometimes animal and figural outlines to produce an intricate pattern of interlaced lines
: a posture (as in ballet) in which the body is bent forward from the hip on one leg with one arm extended forward and the other arm and leg backward
: an elaborate or intricate pattern
… richly pierced by an arabesque of wormholes.John Chase
an arabesque of vines and leaves

Illustration of arabesque

Illustration of arabesque
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: of, relating to, or being in the style of arabesque or an arabesque
arabesque frescoes

Examples of arabesque in a Sentence

Noun The students practiced their arabesques. She held her arms in arabesque.
Recent Examples on the Web
The joke is not just his costume (long tutu and pointe shoes) but the angle of his shoulders and the height of his arabesque. Alice Robb, The New Republic, 16 Oct. 2023 Diamond’s voice echoes in Samba to the Reckoning, each letter of the title rendered in arabesques, swaying this way and that, like a ballerina in time. Angelica Aboulhosn, Smithsonian Magazine, 8 Sep. 2023 Growing up, Bernier used to see Nureyev dancing on the deck, turning arabesques and fouettés against the backdrop of the ocean. Ross Kenneth Urken, Travel + Leisure, 14 July 2023 Indeed, the most valuable thing in the collection just might be the aforementioned vintage denim grail, embellished with delicate gold arabesques in Valentino’s embroidery atelier. Alison S. Cohn, Harper's BAZAAR, 6 July 2023 The Coronation Sword Belt, also known as the Girdle, is again made of gold cloth and embroidered in gold thread with arabesques and scrolls. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 2 May 2023 My meaty ass still got in the way of my arabesque. Deenie Hartzog-Mislock, Longreads, 8 Apr. 2020 Crafted with pure cotton sateen and featuring an intricate arabesque lace, the Ornate Medallion Lace Duvet Cover is delicate yet modern, the perfect blend of classic styling and contemporary design. Town & Country, 13 Feb. 2023 The crowd is captivated with every leap, lift and arabesque. CNN, 30 Apr. 2022
With its arabesque archways and cantera verde-limewash walls, Texere could be just another beautiful home on the outskirts of Oaxaca. Catherine Tansey, Vogue, 25 July 2023 Not least within the spa complex’s dramatic centerpiece: a 20-meter pool featuring eight columns of arabesque marble, with sparkling niches of black-and-gold housing both relaxation areas and 19th-century replicas of classical statues. Liam Hess, Vogue, 5 July 2023 The green, black, and coral ornamentation incorporates an arabesque design, which can be seen in Islamic and European art across many centuries. Mary Elizabeth Andriotis, House Beautiful, 1 Apr. 2020 Fans come dressed in Chanel finery, gleaming guayaberas, or Stetsons color-coordinated with cinto piteados — leather belts stitched with arabesque designs. Los Angeles Times, 15 Sep. 2019 Saidiya Hartman | An excerpt adapted from Wayward Lives, Beautiful Experiments: Intimate Histories of Social Upheaval | W. W. Norton & Co. | 25 minutes (6,922 words) The small naked figure reclines on the arabesque sofa. Longreads, 20 July 2019 Many visitors admire the arabesque architecture (detailed on page 78) but fewer realize the city’s real triumph: the plumbing dates back to the second century and effortlessly carries the waste away. Rebecca Hazelton, New Republic, 18 Jan. 2018 The first move, the arabesque sous sous, gives a simple plank an upgrade. Health Staff,, 2 Nov. 2017 An at-home-after-a-long-day impromptu dance party in May, Arabella in arabesque pose inside the White House China Room, with a caption from Ivanka about being ready for the weekend in June. Kate Bennett, CNN, 4 Oct. 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'arabesque.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Adjective and Noun

French, from Italian arabesco Arabian in fashion, from arabo Arab, from Latin Arabus

First Known Use


circa 1720, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1656, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of arabesque was circa 1656

Dictionary Entries Near arabesque

Cite this Entry

“Arabesque.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 6 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: an ornament or style of decoration that uses outlines of flowers, leaves, branches, or fruit and sometimes animal and human figures to produce a pattern of lines that cross over one another
arabesque adjective
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