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

There was fun to be had beyond the music, too, namely carnival rides, games, exclusive merch, and, most important, lots and lots of really great street style. Maxwell Williams, Vogue, "At Tyler, the Creator’s Music Festival, Flower-Power Style Takes On a Whole New Meaning," 13 Nov. 2018 Aside from flowers, the show also includes carnival rides, steam engines, and produce stands from the local area. Megan Friedman, Harper's BAZAAR, "Camilla Parker Bowles Revealed an Injury on Her Hand at a Royal Event," 25 July 2018 July 19 is customer appreciation day; $20 gets you admission and unlimited carnival rides from 3 p.m. to closing if purchased at the gate. Annie Alleman, Aurora Beacon-News, "County fairs are a throwback for bustling suburbs," 5 July 2018 The festival, featuring live music, carnival rides, bingo, military exhibits and food, runs over Tuesday and Wednesday at Naval Station Great Lakes’s Ross Field, surrounded by the naval base, which has buildings dating back to 1906. Emily K. Coleman, Lake County News-Sun, "Naval Station Great Lakes July 4th festival complete with carnival rides, live music, fireworks," 4 July 2018 Like in past years, Frontier Days this year featured concerts every night except for July 2, which only included access to carnival rides. Karie Angell Luc,, "Crowds flock to Frontier Days in Arlington Heights: 'There's a spirit here like none other'," 3 July 2018 Beyond carnival rides and bounce houses, the event, which the internet company Private Internet Access is sponsoring, will have food trucks, beer gardens and a concert stage where the rapper Snoop Dogg will be the headliner. New York Times, "Jersey City Makes a Statement With Fireworks Over the Hudson," 3 July 2018 There will also be a demolition derby, daily chainsaw carving shows, and carnival rides. Zipporah Osei And Julia Preszler,, "Where to have fun for the Fourth," 27 June 2018 At the time of the carnival, the person had already been arrested and questioned, and was no longer wanted. Hannah Fry, WSJ, "Don’t Believe the Algorithm," 5 Sep. 2018

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

4 Dec 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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