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

grotesquerie (also grotesquery), monster, monstrosity, ogre

Synonyms: Adjective

grating, harsh, jarring, unaesthetic

Antonyms: Adjective

aesthetic (also esthetic)

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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

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 But Griffith’s revolutionary and racist techniques treated blacks as either backdrops or grotesques, never entirely human. Carlos Valladares, San Francisco Chronicle, "Argentine director Lucrecia Martel to attend Berkeley retrospective of her work," 16 Apr. 2018 After the Inferno, Neumann completed a series of grotesques in which humans do eternal battle with creatures while morphing into monsters themselves, all suspended in his signature non-space. Dmitry Samarov, Chicago Reader, "Arts / History / Visual Art ‘Otto Neumann: Modern Degenerate’ shows an artist struggling through the hopelessness of 20th century Germany," 26 Jan. 2018 Startle passersby with the silhouettes of hungry zombies clawing at your windows or dancing ghosts, or spook those brave enough to enter your home with scenes of grotesques ghouls and spooky skeletons. Courtney Campbell, Country Living, "This Halloween Projector Will Scare the Pants Off Your Neighbors," 5 Oct. 2017 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 But Griffith’s revolutionary and racist techniques treated blacks as either backdrops or grotesques, never entirely human. Carlos Valladares, San Francisco Chronicle, "Argentine director Lucrecia Martel to attend Berkeley retrospective of her work," 16 Apr. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

The rush to attribute responsibility for mass atrocities to one’s political opponents is deeply grotesque. Alexandra Desanctis, National Review, "What We Can, and Can’t, Glean from the Dayton Shooter’s Online Behavior," 5 Aug. 2019 Replace the fictional lore of witches with grotesque features wearing black pointy hats, poisoning apples and cavorting with the devil. Anna Bauman, Detroit Free Press, "Crystals, healing, acceptance: Inside the world of Michigan's witches," 2 Aug. 2019 More: Bernie Sanders: Walmart resistance to raising minimum wage is 'grotesque,' slams Walton family The new poll comes as Trump is looking to expand the electoral map during his 2020 re-election campaign. Rebecca Morin, USA TODAY, "Poll shows tight Trump-Biden matchup in Texas," 5 June 2019 Con artists in guru disguises Even as the counterculture began slouching toward narcissism, the dregs of the original hippie impulse had sprung out of Spahn Ranch in horrifically grotesque form. Tom Carson, Los Angeles Times, "Woodstock glorified them. Tarantino barbecued them. In 2019, whither the hippie?," 15 Aug. 2019 Ian Merrill Peakes is hilariously grotesque as Bingley’s clumsily condescending sister and as the Bennets’ flailingly animated cousin Mr. Collins, and he’s nicely understated as roguish charmer Wickham. Sam Hurwitt, The Mercury News, "Review: Shakespeare’s twins, Jane Austen romance delight in Santa Cruz," 31 July 2019 Trump’s plans have caused consternation in the United States, with some people calling the sight of tanks on Washington’s streets grotesque. Washington Post, "Trump’s July 4 spectacle was inspired by France. To some outside the U.S., it looks more like China.," 3 July 2019 Fat lot of good that did him — Livingston suffered a grotesque knee injury midway through season. Gary Peterson, The Mercury News, "Ex-Warrior Shaun Livingston wants to keep playing — with the Clippers," 26 July 2019 Part of what makes these paintings not grotesque and yet difficult to pin down is that the scenes are gently atmospheric. Sanford Schwartz, The New York Review of Books, "Impossible Pictures," 18 Apr. 2019

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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Dictionary Entries near grotesque

Grosz

grot

Grote

grotesque

grotesquerie

grothite

Grotian

Statistics for grotesque

Last Updated

24 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for grotesque

The first known use of grotesque was in 1561

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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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