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ba·​roque bə-ˈrōk How to pronounce baroque (audio)
often capitalized
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
: characterized by grotesqueness, extravagance, complexity, or flamboyance
a truly baroque act of sabotageG. N. Shuster
of gems : irregularly shaped
a baroque pearl
baroquely adverb


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

Did you know?

Baroque came to English from the French word barroque, 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
The station looks like a full-scale, prefab section of the Roman Colosseum, and the town is an elaborate facsimile of a seaside Italian city complete with a hulking bell tower, mock baroque fountains in piazzas and pseudo Roman ruins. Patrick Scott, New York Times, 25 Oct. 2023 In this sense, Nadie Sabe Lo Que Va a Pasar Mañana feels baroque: dark and rich and extravagant. Laura Zornosa, TIME, 13 Oct. 2023 According to the listing, which is held by Savills, the original baroque structure was altered and expanded upon during the Georgian era. Abby Montanez, Robb Report, 27 Oct. 2023 Advertisement The adagio, with pulsating string textures and grinding suspensions over dutiful baroque harmonic sequences leads into an aggressive, if academic, fugue. Luke Schulze, San Diego Union-Tribune, 23 Oct. 2023 The pair will soon be displayed together for the first time since World War II at the Alte Pinakothek in Munich, according to Bernd Ebert, the museum’s chief curator of Dutch and German baroque paintings. Claire Savage, Fortune, 21 Oct. 2023 The Bennewitz story is baroque, involving elaborately staged alien activity and the replacement of his computer with a machine that sometimes displayed extraterrestrial transmissions. Hari Kunzru, Harper's Magazine, 10 Oct. 2023 The torture set pieces in the ‘Saw’ films are lavish gifts of baroque horror presented to the audience. Rudie Obias, Variety, 20 Oct. 2023 In one bedroom the previous owner’s books remain, playing well with a baroque marble escutcheon found at Rose Uniacke. Town & Country, 25 Aug. 2023
Even the ballet music is a set of arrangements, gently spicing up tunes from the Italian baroque. Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, 24 July 2023 Too many attendees confused the Gilded Age (Titanic times) with rococo or baroque (Marie Antoinette times). Vulture, 1 May 2023 Today's fabrications are just as great, like this cornely-effect embroidery, inspired by Andalusian baroque. Kristina Rutkowski, Harper's BAZAAR, 31 Jan. 2023 Kontrapunktus, a baroque chamber orchestra, consists of musicians who add youthful energy and flair to the music. Los Angeles Times, 11 Jan. 2023 Arranged by bassoonist LaMoure, a group of pieces by baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau conjured pastoral associations. Dallas News, 8 Feb. 2022 Sans-serif typefaces are easier to read than their more baroque relatives, particularly on a screen. Jonathan M. Gitlin, Ars Technica, 18 Jan. 2023 Maria Friedman’s staging brings the intelligence of the songs fully alive and justifies the baroque construction. Jesse Green, New York Times, 12 Dec. 2022 Ellis holds nothing back through these 600 pages: baroque violence, startling eroticism, relentless cataloging of mood-specific song and movie titles. Lisa Wong MacAbasco, Vogue, 9 Jan. 2023 See More

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

Word History



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


noun derivative of baroque entry 1

First Known Use


circa 1734, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1852, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of baroque was circa 1734


Dictionary Entries Near baroque

Cite this Entry

“Baroque.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition


: of or relating to a style of art and music common in the 17th century that is marked especially by the use of much fancy decoration
baroque noun

More from Merriam-Webster on baroque

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