grotesque

noun
gro·​tesque | \ grō-ˈtesk How to pronounce grotesque (audio) \

Definition of grotesque

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a style of decorative art characterized by fanciful or fantastic human and animal forms often interwoven with foliage or similar figures that may distort the natural into absurdity, ugliness, or caricature
b : a piece of work in this style an ornate structure, embellished with grotesques
2 : one that is grotesque

grotesque

adjective

Definition of grotesque (Entry 2 of 2)

: of, relating to, or having the characteristics of the grotesque: such as
a : fanciful, bizarre a grotesque Halloween costume
b : absurdly incongruous
c : departing markedly from the natural, the expected, or the typical animals with grotesque deformities

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Other Words from grotesque

Adjective

grotesquely adverb
grotesqueness noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for grotesque

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Choose the Right Synonym for grotesque

Adjective

fantastic, bizarre, grotesque mean conceived, made, or carried out without adherence to truth or reality. fantastic may connote extravagance in conception or ingenuity of decorative invention. dreamed up fantastic rumors bizarre applies to the sensationally strange and implies violence of contrast or incongruity of combination. a bizarre medieval castle in the heart of a modern city grotesque may apply to what is conventionally ugly but artistically effective or it may connote ludicrous awkwardness or incongruity often with sinister or tragic overtones. grotesque statues on the cathedral though grieving, she made a grotesque attempt at a smile

Did You Know?

Adjective

During the Italian Renaissance, Romans of culture took a great interest in their country's past and began excavating ancient buildings. During their excavations, they uncovered chambers (known in Italian as grotte, in reference to their cavelike appearance) decorated with artwork depicting fantastic combinations of human and animal forms interwoven with strange fruits and flowers. The Italian word grottesca became the name for this unique art style, and by 1561 it had mutated into the English noun "grotesque." The adjective form of "grotesque" was first used in the early 17th century to describe the decorative art but is now used to describe anything bizarre, incongruous, or unusual.

Examples of grotesque in a Sentence

Noun a gallery of grotesques from some sicko horror movie Adjective The actors wore dark capes and grotesque masks. a grotesque distortion of the facts
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Last August, six former eBay employees allegedly sent a series of grotesque and threatening packages a couple in Massachusetts that ran an ecommerce blog that had been critical of the company. Brian Barrett, Wired, "Security News This Week: Sneaky New Mac Malware Is Posing as a Flash Installer," 20 June 2020 The notion of Mengele as unhinged, driven by demons, and indulging grotesque and sadistic impulses should be replaced by something even more unsettling. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, "Revisiting Mengele’s Malignant “Race Science”," 15 June 2020 Until very recently, the excess these women displayed, as Kathleen Rowe writes about in her 1995 book The Unruly Woman, was a form of the grotesque. Ariana Romero, refinery29.com, "Stop The Debate About TV’s Messy Women & Start The One About Who Gets To Play Them," 4 June 2020 Floyd’s killing was grotesque, and the latest in a series. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, "How the Protests Have Changed the Pandemic," 4 June 2020 Martin believes the Gothic revival of the 1920s likely inspired the young Ayres to add the grotesques. San Antonio Express-News, "The Gargoyles Guarding S.A.," 28 Mar. 2020 President Trump signed a $1.4 trillion spending package, a bloated legislative grotesque that will add billions of dollars to the national debt. Nr Editors, National Review, "The Week," 9 Jan. 2020 The grotesques are a delightful feature in a building that’s bristling with them. John Kelly, Washington Post, "Cloud Atlases: What are those weird sculptures atop this Kalorama building?," 23 June 2018 The sign, which went up in the 1960s, is as much a part of Tribune Tower’s identity as its Gothic grotesques and flying buttresses. Blair Kamin, chicagotribune.com, "Tribune Tower plans would energize an old landmark, but don't yet create a new one," 18 Apr. 2018 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective While these are grotesque challenges that affect communities of color writ large, for women of color in particular, the effects of voter suppression, the incompetence of poor management of elections reverberates throughout their lives. Emma Hinchliffe, Fortune, "Stacey Abrams: Safeguarding voting rights fights the ‘virus’ of systemic racism," 18 June 2020 Monuments to men who advocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end are a grotesque affront to these ideals. Andrew Mark Miller, Washington Examiner, "Thousands sign petition to remove 'racist' Gandhi statue," 13 June 2020 Monuments to men who advocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end are a grotesque affront to these ideals. Andrew Mark Miller, Washington Examiner, "Thousands sign petition to remove 'racist' Gandhi statue," 13 June 2020 Monuments to men who advocated cruelty and barbarism to achieve such a plainly racist end are a grotesque affront to these ideals. Grace Segers, CBS News, "Pelosi calls for removal of Confederate statues from U.S. Capitol," 11 June 2020 As a matter of racial justice, the case for protest is unequivocal: Floyd’s killing was grotesque, and the latest in a series. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, "How the Protests Have Changed the Pandemic," 4 June 2020 In each of the films, British actors Rob Brydon (Gavin & Stacey) and Steve Coogan (Philomena) play competitive, and at times grotesque, versions of themselves while traveling around and dining at high-end restaurants. Clark Collis, EW.com, "The Trip to Greece," 21 May 2020 Alex is a potent mix of flinty strength and raw vulnerability, and a brilliant instrument to channel the novel’s tone, which is simultaneously elegant and grotesque, eerie and earthbound. Ellen Morton, Washington Post, "After dominating YA, Leigh Bardugo delivers a fantasy novel for adults with ‘Ninth House’," 30 Sep. 2019 Then there’s the far more grotesque preoccupation with Nordic tradition that surfaces on the extremist right in the U.S. J.c. Pan, The New Republic, "America’s Eternal Stockholm Syndrome," 15 May 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'grotesque.' 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 grotesque

Noun

1561, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Adjective

1603, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for grotesque

Noun and Adjective

Middle French & Old Italian; Middle French, from Old Italian (pittura) grottesca, literally, cave painting, feminine of grottesco of a cave, from grotta — see grotto

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Time Traveler for grotesque

Time Traveler

The first known use of grotesque was in 1561

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Statistics for grotesque

Last Updated

30 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Grotesque.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/grotesque. Accessed 4 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for grotesque

grotesque

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of grotesque

: very strange or ugly in a way that is not normal or natural
: extremely different from what is expected or usual

grotesque

adjective
gro·​tesque | \ grō-ˈtesk How to pronounce grotesque (audio) \

Kids Definition of grotesque

: unnatural in an odd or ugly way

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