car·​toon kär-ˈtün How to pronounce cartoon (audio)
often attributive
: a preparatory design, drawing, or painting (as for a fresco)
: a drawing intended as satire, caricature, or humor
a political cartoon
: a ludicrously simplistic, unrealistic, or one-dimensional portrayal or version
the film's villain is an entertaining cartoon
cartoon verb
cartooning noun
cartoonish adjective
cartoonishly adverb
cartoonist noun
cartoonlike adjective
cartoony adjective

Example Sentences

She enjoys reading the cartoons in the Sunday paper. The kids are watching cartoons.
Recent Examples on the Web In the game, there’s a white line circling the cartoon planet. WIRED, 20 Jan. 2023 The launch sparked outrage as the company promoted the J.V. death machine with cartoon skulls and crossbones stylized as boys and girls. Prem Thakker, The New Republic, 17 Jan. 2023 Well, whoever put out the one last that depicted Prescott in a cartoon image as a deer frozen by headlights, this one’s on you. Jarrett Bell, USA TODAY, 17 Jan. 2023 On the soundtrack, the nattering voices and impishly pushy music of an old cartoon from the ‘30s suggests the TV has been on, with someone asleep in the vicinity, for who knows how long. Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune, 11 Jan. 2023 For example, both Fitbit and Samsung have launched similar features where users are assigned a cute cartoon animal based on their chronotype and sleep data. Victoria Song, The Verge, 4 Jan. 2023 The Simpsons family was shown sitting down as Bart, Maggie and Lisa played instruments and a cartoon version of Ledesma was shown holding a conductor’s baton. Jazz Tangcay, Variety, 3 Jan. 2023 The drawing showed the cartoon Ledesma holding a conductor’s baton while Simpson children Lisa, Maggie and Bart played instruments. Los Angeles Times, 3 Jan. 2023 Pulling a small lever gives a glimpse at a whirling orange vortex inside that looks like a cartoon version of Hell. Blake Nelsonstaff Reporter, San Diego Union-Tribune, 1 Jan. 2023 See More

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.

Word History


Italian cartone pasteboard, cartoon, augmentative of carta leaf of paper — more at card entry 1

First Known Use

1671, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cartoon was in 1671

Dictionary Entries Near cartoon

Cite this Entry

“Cartoon.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


car·​toon kär-ˈtün How to pronounce cartoon (audio)
: a design, drawing, or painting made as a model for the finished work
: a drawing intended as a humorous comment on public affairs
cartoonist noun

More from Merriam-Webster on cartoon

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?