ˈzhän-rə How to pronounce genre (audio)
: a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content
a classic of the gothic novel genre
: kind, sort
: painting that depicts scenes or events from everyday life usually realistically

Did you know?

Genre, as you might guess from the way it sounds, comes straight from French, a language based on Latin. It's closely related to genus, a word you may have encountered in biology class. Both words contain the gen- root because they indicate that everything in a particular category (a genre or a genus) belongs to the same "family" and thus has the same origins. So the main genres of classical music would include symphonies, sonatas, and opera, and the major genres of literature would include novels, short stories, poetry, and drama. But within the category of novels, we could also say that detective novels, sci-fi novels, romance novels, and young-adult novels are separate genres.

Example Sentences

In genre fiction there is an implied contract between writer and reader that justice of a kind will be exacted; "good" may not always triumph over "evil," but the distinction between the two must be honored. Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books, 14 Aug. 2003
One of the first marketers outside of hip-hop to recognize the power of the genre …  . he first sent models sashaying down the runway in 1991 in hip-hop chic, with sneakers and chunky gold chains … Johnnie L. Roberts, Newsweek, 2 Sept. 2002
Even the local Catholic archdiocesan weekly, hardly an exciting genre, offers a more provocative sampling of opinion on its editorial page. Walker Percy, "New Orleans Mon Amour," 1968, in Signposts in a Strange Land1991
This book is a classic of the mystery genre. the novel's hero is of a different genre than the traditional kind
Recent Examples on the Web Those early Marvel comics felt real and relevant, in a way that the genre hadn’t until then, and that spoke to a generation whose lives would be rattled by the turbulence of the ’60s. Brian Lowry, CNN, 5 May 2023 These ten under-the-radar shows, spanning across genres and countries, exemplify the very best of what Netflix has to offer. Travis Bean, Forbes, 4 May 2023 Add in wildly creative hip-hop and stately country and the seven inductees blanket nearly every major musical genre. Melissa Ruggieri, USA TODAY, 3 May 2023 Female foreign correspondents during World War II, barred from the front lines, pioneered a new genre of coverage by looking at the impact of war on everyday life. Janet Hook, Los Angeles Times, 17 May 2023 And as artists such as HARDY and Brantley Gilbert continue to bring a rock edge to the genre, Hogan feels like a door is essentially opening for her at this very moment. Tricia Despres, Peoplemag, 16 May 2023 But that will only heighten some advertisers’ uneasiness with the genre. Brian Steinberg, Variety, 14 May 2023 Unexpectedly, and seemingly out of nowhere, Hollywood has stumbled upon a new genre: Grumpy Old Ladies, the category represented by The Book Club: The Next Chapter and 80 for Brady. Armond White, National Review, 12 May 2023 Shaun of the Dead manages to pay homage to titans in the zombie genre while cleverly circumventing the uninspired tropes these film’s can fall victim to. Colin Scanlon, Redbook, 11 May 2023 See More

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

Word History


French, from Middle French, kind, gender — more at gender

First Known Use

1770, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of genre was in 1770

Dictionary Entries Near genre

Cite this Entry

“Genre.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


ˈzhän-rə How to pronounce genre (audio)
: a particular type or category of literary, musical, or artistic composition


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