noun, often attributive
car·​toon | \ kär-ˈtün \

Definition of cartoon 

1 : a preparatory design, drawing, or painting (as for a fresco)
2a : a drawing intended as satire, caricature, or humor a political cartoon
4 : a ludicrously simplistic, unrealistic, or one-dimensional portrayal or version the film's villain is an entertaining cartoon

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Other Words from cartoon

cartoon verb
cartooning \ kär-​ˈtü-​niŋ \ noun
cartoonish \ kär-​ˈtü-​nish \ adjective
cartoonishly adverb
cartoonist \ kär-​ˈtü-​nist \ noun
cartoonlike \ kär-​ˈtün-​ˌlīk \ adjective
cartoony \ kär-​ˈtü-​nē \ adjective

Synonyms for cartoon


delineation, drawing, sketch

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Examples of cartoon in a Sentence

She enjoys reading the cartoons in the Sunday paper. The kids are watching cartoons.

Recent Examples on the Web

Fans have been clamoring for a live-action Kim Possible remake for a while; the original Disney cartoon ran from 2002 to 2007. Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "Disney Releases Live-Action "Kim Possible" Trailer," 8 Dec. 2018 Bush Hager's comment alongside the cartoon confirmed this. Chloe Foussianes, Town & Country, "Jenna Bush Hager Writes Powerfully of George H. W. Bush's Dream of Being Reunited With Loved Ones in the Afterlife," 1 Dec. 2018 Families with children, families avoiding strong content, families comfortable with recreational drug use, and everyone in between who can tolerate cartoons and fun. Verge Staff, The Verge, "The Verge’s guide to tolerable family streaming entertainment," 21 Nov. 2018 Last month, the biggest show ever of Arvi Ostrom’s art, more than a 150 portraits, cartoons and sketches, went up on the walls of the Redwing Cafe, a coffeehouse and vegetarian restaurant a few blocks from Mr. Carlson’s house here. Kirk Johnson, New York Times, "He Couldn’t Refuse a Deathbed Plea. Now He’s Got 10,000 Pieces of Art.," 24 June 2018 Many of the young members have expressed a new interest in cartoons and digital animation. Caille Millner, San Francisco Chronicle, "Through STEM, kids can save the world, like Black Panther," 1 Mar. 2018 The second post is a touching cartoon drawn by Marshall Ramsey that depicts Bush Sr. reuniting with his wife and their daughter, Robin, who passed away of leukemia at age 3. Tess Kornfeld, Glamour, "Jenna Bush Hager Remembers Her Grandfather, Former President George H. W. Bush, in a Touching Tribute," 1 Dec. 2018 The 13-episode season is a terrific cartoon that also happens to be one of the most LGBTQ-inclusive and diverse shows on television. Alex Abad-santos, Vox, "She-Ra and the Princesses of Power honors and challenges the original She-Ra.," 21 Nov. 2018 The lip kit features Kylie Cosmetics' Kris x Kylie packaging, complete with a cute cartoon of Kris and her autograph written right over Kylie's logo. Leah Prinzivalli, Allure, "Kylie Jenner Is Releasing a Todd Kraines Lip Kit for Old-School KUWTK Fans," 9 Nov. 2018

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

1671, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for cartoon

Italian cartone pasteboard, cartoon, augmentative of carta leaf of paper — more at card

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Statistics for cartoon

Last Updated

14 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for cartoon

The first known use of cartoon was in 1671

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More Definitions for cartoon



English Language Learners Definition of cartoon

: a drawing in a newspaper or magazine intended as a humorous comment on something

: a series of drawings that tell a story

: a film or television show made by photographing a series of drawings : an animated film or television show


car·​toon | \ kär-ˈtün \

Kids Definition of cartoon

1 : a movie or television program made by photographing a series of drawings
2 : a drawing (as in a newspaper) making people or objects look funny or foolish

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Comments on cartoon

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


involving abstract or general statements

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