adjective, often capitalized
ba·​roque | \bə-ˈrōk, ba-, -ˈräk, -ˈrȯk\

Definition of baroque 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 art : of, relating to, or having the characteristics of a style of artistic expression prevalent especially in the 17th century that is marked generally by use of complex forms, bold ornamentation, and the juxtaposition of contrasting elements often conveying a sense of drama, movement, and tension a baroque cathedral baroque music and literature the baroque period

2 : characterized by grotesqueness, extravagance, complexity, or flamboyance a truly baroque act of sabotage— G. N. Shuster

3 of gems : irregularly shaped a baroque pearl


noun, often capitalized

Definition of baroque (Entry 2 of 2)

art : the baroque style or the period in which it flourished

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Other Words from baroque


baroquely adverb

Did You Know?


Baroque came to English from a French word meaning "irregularly shaped." At first, the word in French was used mostly to refer to pearls. Eventually, it came to describe an extravagant style of art characterized by curving lines, gilt, and gold. This type of art, which was prevalent especially in the 17th century, was sometimes considered to be excessively decorated and overly complicated. It makes sense, therefore, that the meaning of the word baroque has broadened to include anything that seems excessively ornate or elaborate.

Examples of baroque in a Sentence


a somewhat baroque writing style a book filled with baroque descriptions

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Wheelock, the former curator of northern baroque painting at the National Gallery of Art, is a professor of art history the University of Maryland. Arthur Wheelock, WSJ, "Well-Worn Life, Frozen In Time," 19 Oct. 2018 Founders of Gloomhaven, on the other hand, which made half a million dollars on Kickstarter last summer, could not be further from the baroque, sprawling weirdness of its illustrious ancestor. Tom Mendelsohn, Ars Technica, "Review: Founders of Gloomhaven groans beneath its own weight," 22 Sep. 2018 Dubrovsky’s eight string players, plus Mark Shuldiner on harpsichord and Brandon Acker on theorbo and baroque guitar, include some of the city’s finest period players. John Von Rhein,, "Vivica Genaux delivers exciting Vivaldi vocals with Third Coast Baroque," 8 Apr. 2018 The sybaritic Cardinal Flavio Chigi amassed an impressive collection of 17th-century baroque paintings and furnishings, which remain on display. Laura Itzkowitz, Condé Nast Traveler, "5 Best Day Trips from Rome," 5 Mar. 2018 Indeed, dichotomies define her work, which was both exotic and stylish, and pure and baroque—a perfect fusion of force and finesse. Tiziana Cardini, Vogue, "Remembering Gabriella Crespi, a Milanese Original," 15 June 2018 The pieces, on pedestals and on the floor, marry an industrial look — contemporary, sturdy, spare — with ornate, baroque flamboyance. Leah Ollman,, "The disturbing meets the sweet in Alex Anderson's new sculptures at Gavlak," 4 July 2018 Buy Photo The Painted Bride Art Center, with its intricate, baroque facade of colorful, mirrored mosaics, ought to be designated historic, a panel of the Philadelphia Historical Commission recommended Wednesday. Stephan Salisbury,, "Painted Bride and its Zagar murals deserve historic designation, panel finds," 20 June 2018 These paintings hang on the walls of the bright white shop, which is accented by cornflower baroque floral arrangements and shoppable antique furniture from dealer Lee Calicchio. Noor Brara, Vogue, "Land of Belle’s Latest Pop-Up Shop Brings Summer-Themed Global Decor Stateside," 14 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Turkish baroque mingled Western and Ottoman styles. The Economist, "Turkey’s central bank has streamlined its fight against inflation," 31 May 2018 This show’s willingness to go for baroque, adding on oddity with gusto, recalls the best and–in moments–worst of Six Feet Under. Daniel D'addario, Time, "Here and Now Is a Frank Family Saga Suited for This Moment," 8 Feb. 2018 Leave a Note Ulysses Grant was a complex and often contradictory figure and so is the San Diego hotel that bares his name, an eye-catching blend of post-modern minimalism and the neo-baroque Empire style that flourished during his presidency. Condé Nast Traveler, "The US Grant (Luxury Collection)," 20 Oct. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'baroque.' 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 baroque


circa 1734, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1852, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for baroque


French, from Middle French barroque irregularly shaped (of a pearl), from Portuguese barroco irregularly shaped pearl


noun derivative of baroque entry 1

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Dictionary Entries near baroque



bar opal





Statistics for baroque

Last Updated

20 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for baroque

The first known use of baroque was circa 1734

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More Definitions for baroque



English Language Learners Definition of baroque

: of or relating to a dramatic style of art and music that was common in the 17th and early 18th centuries and that featured many decorative parts and details

: having many details or too many details

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Comments on baroque

What made you want to look up baroque? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


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