farce

1 of 2

noun

1
a
: a light dramatic composition marked by broadly satirical comedy and improbable plot
b
: the broad humor characteristic of farce
2
: an empty or patently ridiculous act, proceeding, or situation
the trial became a farce
3
: a savory stuffing : forcemeat

farce

2 of 2

verb

farced; farcing

transitive verb

1
: stuff
2
: to improve or expand (something, such as a literary work) as if by stuffing

Did you know?

From Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors to Monty Python and the Holy Grail, many of us are familiar with farce in its dramatic sense. However, when farce first appeared in English, it had to do with cookery, not comedy. In the 14th century, English adopted farce from Middle French with its original meaning of "forcemeat"—that is, a highly seasoned, minced meat or fish often served as a stuffing. In the 16th century, English imported the word again, this time to refer to a kind of knockabout comedy already popular in France. French farce had its origins in the 13th-century practice of "stuffing" Latin church texts with explanatory phrases. By the 15th century, a similar practice of inserting unscripted buffoonery into religious plays had arisen. Such farces—which included clowning, acrobatics, reversal of social roles, and indecency—soon developed into a distinct dramatic genre and spread rapidly in various forms throughout Europe.

Examples of farce in a Sentence

Noun an actor with a talent for farce the recall of a duly elected official for a frivolous reason is not democracy in action but a farce
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
On a surface level, sustainability has become somewhat of a farce. Essence, 29 Nov. 2023 What’s the challenge of writing a farce like this and capturing that dynamic on the page? Thomas Floyd, Washington Post, 24 Oct. 2023 The genre and the farce approach, the satire, are probably the only ways to face someone like Pinochet. Vulture, 21 Sep. 2023 That the GOP has made a farce of such a basic task as electing a leader should really come as no surprise to anyone. Jason Linkins, The New Republic, 4 Nov. 2023 But rather than face up to the task of tackling that two-state peace plan, Netanyahu forced Israelis to play a role in a strategic kabuki that devolved into a farce. Ami Ayalon, Foreign Affairs, 31 Oct. 2023 Once the deception is underway — and a Chekhov’s gun of a bag is casually dropped off in the boys’ flat near the top of the play — the stage is set for 75 minutes of breathless farce, which ultimately crash into a final 15 of awful, inevitable devastation. Sara Holdren, Vulture, 13 Oct. 2023 For Martin, any rivalry between the shows is a mummer’s farce (that is, foolish). WIRED, 3 Oct. 2023 The glossy office farce has endured for good reason, putting a relatable quest for meaningful work in an escapist package. Alison Herman, Variety, 22 June 2023
Verb
Others might go right to farce for the 60-game schedule, the make-it-up-as-you-go-along rule changes, the runner-on-second rule to start extra innings and three-batters-per-pitcher minimum. Evan Grant, Dallas News, 28 Oct. 2020 As the season progresses, though, the pathos largely gives way to farce. Kristen Baldwin, EW.com, 23 Aug. 2021 See More

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

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English farse, from Middle French farce, from Vulgar Latin *farsa, from Latin, feminine of farsus, past participle of farcire

Verb

Middle English farsen, from Anglo-French farsir, from Latin farcire

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of farce was in the 14th century

Podcast

Dictionary Entries Near farce

Cite this Entry

“Farce.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/farce. Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Kids Definition

farce

noun
ˈfärs
1
: a play about ridiculous and absurd situations that is intended to make people laugh
2
: humor characteristic of a farce
3
: something that is ridiculous
farcical
ˈfär-si-kəl
adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on farce

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!