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cos·​play ˈkäz-ˌplā How to pronounce cosplay (audio)
plural cosplays
: the activity or practice of dressing up as a character from a work of fiction (such as a comic book, video game, or television show)
In cosplay, a good costume is as much about creativity with materials and construction as it is about the outcome. So while some people spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on custom outfits for cons, many more invest in time, using cheap materials and household items to transform themselves into characters of superhuman, mythical proportions.Jamal Jordan
often used before another noun
cosplay fans
Festivities would not be complete without a cosplay competition.Charlotte Bray


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cosplayed; cosplaying; cosplays
intransitive : to engage in cosplay
cosplaying as anime characters
The positive reaction he received from fellow conventioneers felt so good that he's been cosplaying ever since.Pam Kragen
transitive : to dress up as (a fictional character) in cosplay
She said she has cosplayed other women in science fiction or fantasy, but Wonder Woman is the first woman superhero, and one of the earliest representations of a strong, capable woman she saw growing up.Rebecca White
cosplaying noun
Cosplaying is a big, colorful part of Tokyo in Tulsa and it's safe to say that, other than Halloween, Broken Arrow has never been populated by this many costumed characters. Jimmie Tramel
a cosplaying event

Did you know?

If you enjoy cosplaying as your favorite anime character (say, Nezuko Kamada from Demon Slayer or Luffy from One Piece), you’ve got yourself a special, lexicographical twofer of words that were borrowed from English into Japanese and then back into English. In Japanese, anime is short for animēshiyon, which comes from the English word animation, referring to an animated cartoon. Japanese users similarly took the English words costume and play (as in role-play) and combined them into the word kosuchūmupurē, or kosupure for short, which was reborrowed into English as cosplay, first as a noun, and later as a verb. It's not required that one choose an anime character to cosplay, however—any fictional character will do, and probably has done! People are even starting to use cosplay figuratively to mean “to pretend to be,” as in “her chiweenie likes to cosplay as a much bigger dog whenever they visit the dog park.”

Examples of cosplay in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web
In June of 2015, while serving as president of a local NAACP chapter in Washington state, she was outed for racial cosplay. Jason Parham, WIRED, 19 Feb. 2024 Fans are encouraged to dress in their favorite cosplay or festive attire for a free evening of trivia, book talk and Pal/Valentine’s Day activities. Mary Ann Grossmann, Twin Cities, 11 Feb. 2024 Think: big hair, fur coats and Carmela Soprano cosplay. Jordan Greene, Peoplemag, 23 Jan. 2024 Who could have predicted that red pantyhose would evolve into a chic fashion statement, transcending medieval times and elf-like cosplay? Devine Blacksher, Essence, 12 Jan. 2024 These are, to How to Dance in Ohio’s credit, not all stories of hardship: Remy (Desmond Edwards) delights in running a cosplay tutorial channel from home in front of a ring light. Vulture, 10 Dec. 2023 Somewhere between Ally McBeal mini suits and Nancy Sinatra cosplay, my treatment started to work. Sue Williamson, Vogue, 26 Jan. 2024 This expo will bring together some of the biggest personalities in acting, comics, cosplay, art and animation for a one-of-a-kind fan experience. Brittany Delay, The Mercury News, 1 Jan. 2024 There is a long, controversial history of racial cosplay in literature and perhaps, many wondered, this was just the latest instance of it, despite the subject matter of his work mirroring what is already emblematic of the genre. Jason Parham, WIRED, 13 Sep. 2023
Get this for the friend who likes to cosplay as a very good baker and who doesn’t like to skimp on the decadence. Kate Kassin, Bon Appétit, 29 Nov. 2023 While many Gossip Girl fans will cosplay as Serena van der Woodsen this Thanksgiving, Blake Lively is walking around New York City dressed as the holiday itself. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, 17 Nov. 2023 En route, Ward doesn’t miss his chance to cosplay the locals. Khari Nixon, Spin, 28 Aug. 2023 Harbaugh’s suspension gives UM an excuse to cosplay as the oppressed. Jimmy Watkins, cleveland, 6 Sep. 2023 Dedicated to languid days in seaside villas, Tomato Girl Summer encourages the non-voyagers to cosplay a vacation to Southern Europe, particularly Italy. Hannah Jackson, Vogue, 24 July 2023 Doja Cat Lee thinks Doja Cat is the most likely to cosplay Choupette this Monday. Vulture, 30 Apr. 2023 The fan also mentioned how Sandoval essentially cosplays as a server while also failing at being an entertainer. Larisha Paul, Rolling Stone, 27 June 2023 The play village erected in the backyard of Kim Kardashian’s family compound features a life-size KKW Beauty boutique, allowing her children to cosplay as beauty moguls from birth, basically. Hanna Lustig, Glamour, 28 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cosplay.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



cos(tume) entry 1 + play entry 1, after Japanese kosupure, short for kosuchūmupurē, borrowed from English costume + (role) play

Note: The Japanese word was allegedly introduced in print by the Japanese publisher and media producer Noboyuki Takahashi (born 1957) in the June, 1983 issue of the magazine Mai Anime/My Anime (see Brian Ashcraft and Luke Plunkett, Cosplay World [Prestel, 2014], pp. 18-20; the authors quote from an interview with Takahashi and reproduce pages from the magazine).


derivative of cosplay entry 1

First Known Use


1993, in the meaning defined above


2002, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cosplay was in 1993


Dictionary Entries Near cosplay

Cite this Entry

“Cosplay.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Mar. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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