adjective, often capitalized
ba·​roque | \ bə-ˈrōk How to pronounce baroque (audio) , 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

Adjective a somewhat baroque writing style a book filled with baroque descriptions
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Padilla speaks in the highly baroque language of the academy — a style that can seem so deliberate as to function as a kind of protective armor. New York Times, "He Wants to Save Classics From Whiteness. Can the Field Survive?," 2 Feb. 2021 In 2021, the largest brood of cicadas in the United States, appropriately named Brood X, will awake from a 17-year sleep and burrow out of the cold earth, ushering in a new season of baroque bug horrors. Aj Willingham, CNN, "2020 was the year of scary bugs, and 2021 will be even worse," 30 Dec. 2020 This exclusive first look at the Giraffe costume from The Masked Singer's upcoming fourth season reveals a very baroque figure, complete with a wig and heels. Lauren Huff,, "Get a first look at the Giraffe from The Masked Singer season 4," 3 Sep. 2020 The Trinchero tasting room has a baroque library vibe. Esther Mobley,, "Trinchero: Sutter Home grown up," 17 Jan. 2018 Apollo’s Fire Cleveland’s baroque orchestra isn’t just hanging in there. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, "Coronavirus shutdown puts pressure on Cleveland’s smaller arts groups but also sparks creativity and opportunity," 1 June 2020 The palace was built by Pope Urban VIII, in the high days of Roman baroque architecture, to host the Congregation for the Evangelization of People instituted by Pope Gregory XV (Urban’s predecessor) in 1622. Ilaria Maria Sala, Quartz, "A brief and Catholic history of one of the 21st century’s favorite words: propaganda," 17 Apr. 2020 There’s the golden, baroque Schoenbrunn Palace, and the towering cathedral of St. Stephen’s. Kate Krader,, "Forget Palaces and Art, Let’s Go to Vienna for the Cake and Wine," 5 May 2020 Because of the baroque machinery that runs the tax preparation industry, the IRS had sent the money to a bank Citi Tax works with but the customers had not heard of. Paul Kiel, ProPublica, "Millions of People Face Stimulus Check Delays for a Strange Reason: They Are Poor," 24 Apr. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Grids designed for big coal and gas plants are structured in ways that mean one portion cannot be shut off without affecting others, and they are often governed by baroque rules about who exactly can sell power to the grid and when. Gregory Barber, Wired, "When the Grid Goes Down, Can a Fleet of Batteries Replace It?," 24 Feb. 2021 Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pietà, an 18th-century church with an iconic baroque belfry, and the lemon-yellow church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, built in 1679, are also nearby and worth a visit. Marianna Cerini, Condé Nast Traveler, "This Tiny Island Was Named Italy’s Capital of Culture for 2022," 22 Feb. 2021 It’s not just the time-out-of-time splendor of the St. Anthony hotel or the ice palace grandeur of main bar or the baroque chandeliers and sweeping staircase that gives Rebelle its swagger. Mike Sutter, San Antonio Express-News, "5 great surf-and-turf, steak and lobster combos at San Antonio restaurants for Valentine's Day: Rebelle, Silo Prime, Bohanan's, J-Prime, Signature," 4 Feb. 2021 Italian lawmakers had long tried attracting back talented workers with tax breaks, but a grim job market, high unemployment, a baroque bureaucracy and narrow avenues for advancement continued to draw many Italian graduates abroad. New York Times, "The Pandemic Helped Reverse Italy’s Brain Drain. But Can It Last?," 8 Jan. 2021 So German baroque music is separate from French music of the same era. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Why I can’t get rid of my CDs," 29 Dec. 2020 Elise’s final choice—the Sloane gown—was a dark ivory crepe dress with natural baroque pearl buttons. Alexandra Macon, Vogue, "CJ McCollum and Elise Esposito’s Wedding Was an Intimate Affair in Oregon Wine Country," 6 Jan. 2021 Marley Healy, a fashion historian and curator, mentioned a famous portrait of Marie Antoinette in a simple (by the era’s baroque standards), diaphanous gown as an example of how this process starts. Amanda Mull, The Atlantic, "America Loves to Hate Sweatpants," 8 Dec. 2020 Byrne’s beliefs about a deep-state plot rivalled these in baroque complexity and seemed equally fantastical. Sheelah Kolhatkar, The New Yorker, "A Tycoon’s Deep-State Conspiracy Dive," 7 Dec. 2020

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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The first known use of baroque was circa 1734

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Last Updated

17 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Baroque.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Mar. 2021.

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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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