noun, often attributive
car·​toon | \ kär-ˈtün How to pronounce cartoon (audio) \

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 How to pronounce cartooning (audio) \ noun
cartoonish \ kär-​ˈtü-​nish How to pronounce cartoonish (audio) \ adjective
cartoonishly adverb
cartoonist \ kär-​ˈtü-​nist How to pronounce cartoonist (audio) \ noun
cartoonlike \ kär-​ˈtün-​ˌlīk How to pronounce cartoonlike (audio) \ adjective
cartoony \ kär-​ˈtü-​nē How to pronounce cartoony (audio) \ 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

De Adder's Trump depiction was the latest controversy surrounding political cartoons. Shannon Liao, CNN, "Canadian cartoonist loses job after illustration of Trump went viral," 30 June 2019 The visual interestingly integrates scenes from a 20th-century political cartoon that was way ahead of its time. Michael Saponara, Billboard, "Denmark Vessey Is Silenced by Society in Eerie 'Trustfall' Video: Premiere," 21 Mar. 2018 After Matias’ arrest, DCFS encouraged the couple to expose the children to cartoons and music in Spanish. Melissa Sanchez, ProPublica, "For generations, Illinois’ child welfare agency has failed to adequately serve Spanish-speaking families with children in its care.," 20 June 2019 Actor John Cusack is apologizing for re-tweeting an anti-Semitic cartoon and quotation after defending the post, then deleting it. CBS News, "John Cusack apologizes for retweeting apparent anti-Semitic cartoon," 18 June 2019 Not your average ninja, nor your average kids movie about ninjas, the Danish animated feature Checkered Ninja (Ternet Ninja) lies somewhere between a clever coming-of-age cartoon and a racy comedy more suitable for a slot on Adult Swim. Jordan Mintzer, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Checkered Ninja' ('Ternet Ninja'): Film Review | Annecy 2019," 14 June 2019 Children's show offerings included Dire Guys (a cartoon featuring baby dire wolves) and Hodor's House (which seems a bit too soon). Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kit Harington Spoofs Game of Thrones Spinoffs on Saturday Night Live," 8 Apr. 2019 Washington officials try to outpace the Teapot Dome scandal in this 1924 political cartoon by Clifford Berryman. Andrew Coan, WSJ, "Why Robert Mueller’s Predecessors Usually Didn’t Prevail," 25 Jan. 2019 Political cartoons often portray women in revealing or otherwise inappropriate clothing, Koed noted. Anna North, Vox, "America’s sexist obsession with what women politicians wear, explained," 3 Dec. 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

9 Jul 2019

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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 How to pronounce cartoon (audio) \

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).


characterized by aphorism

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