car·ni·val | \ˈkär-nə-vəl \

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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Synonyms for carnival

Synonyms: Noun

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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Among them: a ‘‘carnival of resistance’’ outside the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh on Saturday, expected to attract busloads of protesters from across the country., "Trump back in Scotland ahead of Putin talks," 14 July 2018 Marsha Ginsberg’s scenic design is dominated by the production’s most effective visual element: a gunmetal-gray, rotating carnival ride with five torpedo-like cars painted with grinning shark faces. Robert Greskovic, WSJ, "‘Peter Pan’ Review: A Modern Neverland," 11 July 2018 The annual event at Springfield Oaks park in Davisburg features livestock showcases, carnival rides and various daily events. Joe Guillen, Detroit Free Press, "Pig races, carnival rides and — dinosaurs? — at the Oakland County Fair," 7 July 2018 Mexico’s presidential election campaign, usually a contentious affair, has turned into a triumphant carnival of sorts, with leftist candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador poised to make history tomorrow. Caroline Alexander,, "A Retirement, a Failed Coup and a Taboo: Weekend Reads," 30 June 2018 Heat-76ers has featured a carnival of both clean contact and forceful fouls — 82 by Miami and 75 by Philadelphia. Barry Jackson, miamiherald, "Here's one thing the 76ers are expecting from the Heat in Game 4," 20 Apr. 2018 And then in 2010, the continent that FIFA had once declined to invite to the party were the ones staging a carnival of their very own, as South Africa became the first African nation to host the World Cup., "World Cup Countdown: 13 Weeks to Go - African Boycott Denies Ghana's Golden Generation in 1966," 22 Mar. 2018 The Kaapse Klopse [Cape Minstrels]--captured in one scene within the film--is a carnival in Cape Town in which descendants of slaves celebrate their freedom. Pelican Bomb,, "'World of Zulu' reveals ties between New Orleans, South Africa," 17 Jan. 2018 Each new owner would subtly change the park’s operations, evolving it further away from it's original Western-theme vision and more into a permanent carnival. azcentral, "Iconic Arizona businesses that are closed," 4 Nov. 2014

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.

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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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Statistics for carnival

Last Updated

9 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for carnival

The first known use of carnival was in 1549

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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 \

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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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).


one that holds something together

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