car·​ni·​val | \ ˈkär-nə-vəl How to pronounce carnival (audio) \

Definition of carnival

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a season or festival of merrymaking before Lent
2a : an instance of merrymaking, feasting, or masquerading
b : an instance of riotous excess a carnival of violence
3a : a traveling enterprise offering amusements
b : an organized program of entertainment or exhibition : festival a winter carnival



Definition of carnival (Entry 2 of 2)

: suggestive of or suited to a carnival a carnival atmosphere carnival colors

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms for carnival

Synonyms: Noun

celebration, fest, festival, festivity, fete (or fête), fiesta, gala, jubilee

Visit the Thesaurus for More 

Examples of carnival in a Sentence


the school's annual winter carnival That part of town is a carnival on Friday and Saturday nights. There is a carnival atmosphere in the office. The garden became a carnival of color.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Free entertainment featuring Liquid Blue, a dance-party band, carnival games, jumpers, live music and food. San Diego Union-Tribune, "42 ways to celebrate July 4 in San Diego County with fireworks and parades," 27 June 2019 Despite new initiatives from Google and Facebook, messing with privacy controls is like playing a carnival game. Sarah Krouse And Patience Haggin, WSJ, "Internet Providers Look to Cash In on Your Web Habits," 27 June 2019 This family-friendly festival features live music by Eden, a variety of summer foods and drinks offered by vendors and local civic organizations, carnival games, pony rides, and fun. Luann Gibbs,, "4th of July in Cincinnati: Here are all the fireworks, festivals and events," 27 June 2019 Set for July 4 is a parade beginning at 10 a.m., followed by a hot dog roast, carnival games and live entertainment. Micah Walker, Detroit Free Press, "13 places to watch fireworks in metro Detroit this 4th of July," 26 June 2019 There will also be old-fashioned carnival games, one ticket per play, 50 cents a ticket. Emily Sorensen, Pomerado News, "Poway Fourth of July festivities include Old Poway Park events, fireworks at Poway High," 26 June 2019 Food vendors, carnival games, inflatables, live music. Picnics welcome. $5 wristband for rides; $15 family pack. Susan Dunne,, "Here’s where you’ll find 4th of July fireworks in Greater Hartford," 24 June 2019 Toy Story 4 dedicates three of its mid-credits scenes to this development, showing how Woody, Bo, and their friends have rigged a carnival game to help the prizes, who are toys, find new kids to take them home. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "Toy Story 4’s 5 end credits scenes, explained," 21 June 2019 Big Little Backyard Barbecue: 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Colton Hall, 570 Pacific St. Music, carnival games, face painting, balloon artists, jump houses and food. Lisa Herendeen, The Mercury News, "July 4th 2019: Here are the SF Bay Area’s parades, fireworks and more," 20 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

There will be carnival attractionsand inflatable bounce houses to keep them entertained for hours. Erica Boniface, The Know, "The best Colorado road races and fun runs of 2017," 4 Mar. 2017 Carnival-prize figurines from the first half of the 20th century line shelves that reach the ceiling. Gene Johnson, The Seattle Times, "At 75, Chihuly discusses his long struggles with mental health," 2 June 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'carnival.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of carnival


1549, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1605, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for carnival


Italian carnevale, alteration of earlier carnelevare, literally, removal of meat, from carne flesh (from Latin carn-, caro) + levare to remove, from Latin, to raise

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about carnival

Statistics for carnival

Last Updated

3 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for carnival

The first known use of carnival was in 1549

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for carnival



English Language Learners Definition of carnival

: a festival held before Lent that includes music and dancing
: a form of entertainment that travels to different places and includes rides and games you can play to win prizes
: an event where many people gather to celebrate something


car·​ni·​val | \ ˈkär-nə-vəl How to pronounce carnival (audio) \

Kids Definition of carnival

1 : a form of entertainment that travels from town to town and includes rides and games
2 : an organized program of entertainment or exhibition : festival a winter carnival

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on carnival

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


providing supplementary assistance

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!