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

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Examples of carnival in a Sentence

Noun 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun To break out from the pack, streamers are touting their wares with carnival barker-like gusto. Lynn Elber, Twin Cities, "Apple TV Plus joins streaming wars, has Oprah but no catalog," 31 Oct. 2019 When Sherman went into the NFL, the world lost a great carnival barker. Scott Ostler,, "49ers’ Richard Sherman: How Compton childhood shaped his NFL journey," 17 Oct. 2019 Giuliani was not always a cable TV carnival barker. Stephen Collinson And Caitlin Hu, CNN, "Trump's test for Democrats -- Meanwhile in America," 9 Oct. 2019 Smith, with the fervor of a carnival barker, presented a list of the top 5 duos in the NBA. Gary Peterson, The Mercury News, "ESPN talking head ranks the top 5 NBA duos, and the Warriors make the grade," 23 July 2019 Or, better yet, the Democrats should recognize that no historical precedents can prepare them for a world in which a lawless carnival-barker cum real-estate hustler has been entrusted with the codes to nuclear weapons. Walter Shapiro, The New Republic, "1998 Was a Seinfeld Election—Not an Impeachment Referendum," 6 June 2019 While craft brew is the focus, the event also features festival food, artisans and marketplace vendors from across the country, live music, strolling entertainers, carnival rides and a midway. Steven Lindsey, Dallas News, "The art of communities," 2 Apr. 2020 The family-friendly event will feature live music all day on dueling stages, a petting zoo, carnival rides and more. azcentral, "What is there to do in Phoenix in March? Here are the best food, art and music festivals," 25 Feb. 2020 For 44 years, Mardi Gras historian Arthur Hardy has published the definitive annual guide to carnival in New Orleans. CBS News, "One family has built Mardi Gras floats for four generations," 22 Feb. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective For now, the at times festive and carnival nature of the Iraqi and Lebanese protests mask nervous fears on the streets that Iran would deploy its local militias to put an end to the protests. Bessma Momani, Time, "A New Arab Spring Is Unfolding in Iraq and Lebanon. But Things Could Get Bloody If Iran Gets Its Way," 7 Nov. 2019 Unlike most carnival celebrations throughout the Caribbean, J’ouvert does not take place in the streets of Toronto for Caribana 2019. Anquanette Gaspard, Essence, "Tell Dem We Reach! A First-Timer’s Guide to Caribana, Toronto's Caribbean Carnival," 24 July 2019 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for carnival

Time Traveler

The first known use of carnival was in 1549

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Statistics for carnival

Last Updated

21 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Carnival.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

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More Definitions for carnival


How to pronounce carnival (audio)

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

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