Definition of macabre
1 : having death as a subject : comprising or including a personalized representation of death The macabre dance included a procession of skeletons.
2 : dwelling on the gruesome a macabre presentation of a tragic story
3 : tending to produce horror in a beholder this macabre procession of starving peasants
Examples of macabre in a Sentence
a macabre story of murder and madness
Police discovered a macabre scene inside the house.
Recent Examples of macabre from the Web
But recent moves by the Trump administration have increased the likelihood that much of what is known about the macabre humiliations that unfolded in those jails around the world will remain hidden from public view.
Raya Bott and colleagues at Aachen University in Germany has now shown that crebillate silk adheres to insects in a previously unknown and unsettlingly macabre way.
Most are hidden in deep crevasses or covered by snow and ice, but some are visible and have become macabre landmarks, earning nicknames for their plastic climbing boots, colorful parkas or final resting poses.
A small minke whale washed up on the Long Beach peninsula in Washington over the weekend and beach goers got a rare -- if not macabre -- chance to see the animal up close and personal.
The film begins with a little too much backstory but hits its entertaining and playfully macabre stride before devolving into a C.G.I.-heavy maelstrom of action (never one of Burton’s strong points).
Instead of admitting this failure, Soviet leaders squeezed the soul from their citizens by forcing them to perform in the macabre perversion of human nature that is totalitarian socialism.
The point of this macabre census was to understand the origins of our own behavior.
At the same time, Dr. O’Connor’s openness has exposed some of the more macabre requirements of scientific research.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'macabre'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
Where does the word macabre come from?
We trace the origins of macabre to the name of the Book of Maccabees which is included in the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox canons of the Old Testament and in the Protestant Apocrypha. Sections of this biblical text address both the deaths of faithful people asked to renounce their religion and the manner in which the dead should be properly commemorated. The latter includes a discussion of praying for the souls of the dead, which was important in the development of the notion of purgatory and a happy afterlife for those persecuted for their religion. In medieval France, representations of these passages were performed as a procession or dance which became known as the “dance of death” or “dance Maccabee,” which was spelled in several different ways, including danse macabre.
In English, macabre was originally used in reference to this “dance of death” and then gradually became used more broadly, referring to anything grim or gruesome. It has come to be used as a synonym of horrible or distressing, always with a connection to the physical aspects of death and suffering.
Origin and Etymology of macabre
French, from (danse) macabre dance of death, from Middle French (danse de) Macabré
First Known Use: 1889See Words from the same year
Synonym Discussion of macabre
MACABRE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of macabre for English Language Learners
: involving death or violence in a way that is strange, frightening, or unpleasant
Seen and Heard
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