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
The film has no original score to punch up its comedic overtones either, instead relying on existing music choices that are often tinged with melancholy, from Saint-Saëns’ morbidly named Danse macabre to the songs of fado superstar Amelia Rodrigues.
After a highly dubious trial, replete with a macabre reenactment, the murder of British tourists Hannah Witheridge and David Miller in September 2014 was blamed on two Burmese nationals, who were then sentenced to death.
The twisted wreckage of the Buick Electra in which Mansfield was killed is on display at Hollywood's Dearly Departed museum, which is dedicated to Tinsel Town's macabre past.
If true and if the target was indeed killed, the shot — or multiple shots — would join the macabre ranks of the longest sniper kills in history.
Inside a suburban home in Argentina, a hidden room held macabre secrets.
But this story goes even further into macabre farce, because every story does these days.
There is a sort of macabre solidarity to sifting through the remnants of someone else’s clutter, like making a Pinterest board for messy people.
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.
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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