bur·​lesque | \ (ˌ)bər-ˈlesk How to pronounce burlesque (audio) \

Definition of burlesque

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 literature : a literary or dramatic work that seeks to ridicule by means of grotesque exaggeration or comic imitation a burlesque of Victorian society
2 : mockery usually by caricature a writer whose burlesque often bordered on cruelty
3 : theatrical entertainment of a broadly humorous often earthy character consisting of short turns (see turn entry 2 sense 4d), comic skits, and sometimes striptease acts performers who got their start in burlesque


burlesqued; burlesquing

Definition of burlesque (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to imitate in a humorous or derisive manner : mock a work burlesquing Sherlock Holmes

intransitive verb

: to employ burlesque a temptation to burlesque

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Other Words from burlesque


burlesque adjective
burlesquely adverb


burlesquer noun

Choose the Right Synonym for burlesque


caricature, burlesque, parody, travesty mean a comic or grotesque imitation. caricature implies ludicrous exaggeration of the characteristic features of a subject. caricatures of politicians in cartoons burlesque implies mockery especially through giving a serious or lofty subject a frivolous treatment. a nightclub burlesque of a trial in court parody applies especially to treatment of a trivial or ludicrous subject in the exactly imitated style of a well-known author or work. a witty parody of a popular novel travesty implies that the subject remains unchanged but that the style is extravagant or absurd. this production is a travesty of the opera

Examples of burlesque in a Sentence


The book is a burlesque of Victorian society. a writer whose burlesque often bordered on cruelty Several important 20th-century performers got their start in burlesque.


burlesquing the teacher's nervous tic isn't very nice
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Good burlesque, the kind that sticks its landing, requires a performer to know their body innately. Nicole Blackwood, chicagotribune.com, "Plus-size burlesque troupe The Femme FATales is serving ‘fat liberation on a silver platter’," 1 July 2019 As cultural figures, Chang and Eng were yet more prolific, begetting no end of scientific studies, metaphysical conundrums, Broadway burlesques, political cartoons, and scandalous exposés. Julian Lucas, The New York Review of Books, "The Great Assimilationists," 21 Feb. 2019 Happy hour specials daily, RuPaul's Drag Race viewing parties, burlesque shows and more. Briana Rice, Cincinnati.com, "Here are 10 of the best LGBTQ-friendly bars in Cincinnati," 14 June 2019 Harington did a burlesque striptease during the show, so there was truly something for everyone. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kit Harington Had a Mini Game of Thrones Reunion for His SNL Debut," 7 Apr. 2019 Their date was hot like fire at the burlesque show Little Miss Nasty. Katherine J. Igoe, Marie Claire, "Jenna Dewan and Boyfriend Steve Kazee Just Had the Hottest Date Ever," 22 Feb. 2019 Boyfriend combines high-speed rap screeds with tongue in cheek burlesque dancing to achieve one of the most unique vibes in the music biz. Doug Maccash, NOLA.com, "Burlesque rapper Boyfriend blows away Jazz Fest 2018," 5 May 2018 When the Phil is off, expect to see touring bands, comedians, and local burlesque or variety shows; keep an eye out for a new addition to the programming: classic movies backed by a live orchestra, a local favorite. Paul Oswell, Condé Nast Traveler, "15 Best Things To Do In New Orleans," 4 Mar. 2018 On an online resume, Sayoc described himself as a booker and promoter for burlesque shows. Michael Biesecker, The Seattle Times, "Bomb suspect: Ex-stripper with cash problems, Trump devotion," 27 Oct. 2018

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


1667, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1676, in the meaning defined at transitive sense

History and Etymology for burlesque

Noun and Verb

burlesque, adjective, comic, droll, from French, from Italian burlesco, from burla joke, from Spanish

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Statistics for burlesque

Last Updated

5 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for burlesque

The first known use of burlesque was in 1667

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More Definitions for burlesque



English Language Learners Definition of burlesque

: a play, story, novel, etc., that makes a serious subject seem funny or ridiculous
: a kind of entertainment that was popular in the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and that included funny performances, singing, dancing, etc., and sometimes performances in which women took off their clothes

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More from Merriam-Webster on burlesque

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with burlesque

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for burlesque

Spanish Central: Translation of burlesque

Nglish: Translation of burlesque for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about burlesque

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