picaresque

adjective
pi·ca·resque | \ ˌpi-kə-ˈresk , ˌpē- \

Definition of picaresque 

(Entry 1 of 2)

: of or relating to rogues or rascals also : of, relating to, suggesting, or being a type of fiction dealing with the episodic adventures of a usually roguish protagonist a picaresque novel

picaresque

noun

Definition of picaresque (Entry 2 of 2)

: one that is picaresque

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Did You Know?

Adjective

Picaresque derives from Spanish picaresco, which means "of or relating to a picaro." What is a picaro? This word, which also derives from Spanish, means "rogue" or "bohemian." "Picaro" describes a type of character that has long been a popular subject for fictional narrative. Typically, the picaresque novel centers around a wandering individual of low standing who happens into a series of adventures among people of various higher classes, often relying on his wits and a little dishonesty to get by. The first known novel in this style is Lazarillo de Tormes (ca. 1554), an irreverent work about a poor boy who works for a series of masters of dubious character. The novel has been attributed to Diego Hurtado de Mendoza, but his authorship is disputable.

Examples of picaresque in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Two lithographs from 1827 by European visitors to Rio, capital of the new empire of Brazil, depict picaresque street scenes crowded with traders, monks, hawkers and slaves. Jason Farago, New York Times, "How Latin America Was Built, Before Modernism Came Along," 18 Apr. 2018 Which is a shame, because this picaresque novel’s most memorable scenes rival Gone With the Wind (and Cold Mountain) for sheer jaw-dropping Dixie drama. Jocelyn Mcclurg, USA TODAY, "Who is 'Varina'? Novelist Charles Frazier makes the Confederacy's first lady a star," 3 Apr. 2018 Cinema will seemingly never run out of stories in which sons go in search of their missing/lost fathers, but if the results were always as charming as Joao Miller Guerra and Filipa Reis' ambling picaresque Djon Africa few audiences would complain. Neil Young, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Djon Africa': Film Review | Rotterdam 2018," 7 Feb. 2018 The result was a picaresque romp that happened to coincide with a bout of subzero weather that killed the TV crew’s drone midflight and froze my iPhone during an attempt to do a Facebook Live. Washington Post Staff, Washington Post, "Long journeys and unforgettable encounters: Foreign correspondents share their most memorable tales," 20 Dec. 2017 Elements of picaresque comedy blended with pop culture references to create one of the most soul-satisfying shows of the year. Kerry Reid, chicagotribune.com, "Bumppo to Haven, the top-10 best in off-Loop theater of 2017," 18 Dec. 2017 Some critics accused him of recycling his picaresque plots and ideas, which at times seemed to verge on the nihilistic. Harrison Smith, Washington Post, "J.P. Donleavy, best-selling author of ‘The Ginger Man,’ dies at 91," 14 Sep. 2017 Rafting down the Mississippi, Twain captured pre-Civil War America with a picaresque tale of marks and swindlers, innocents and thugs. Ron Charles, The Denver Post, "Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer are back — and all growed up," 20 Jan. 2017 The original Guardians was a series of picaresque episodes loosely strung together by a Marvel McGuffin (one of the seemingly infinite supply of Infinity Stones) and an emphatically forgettable villain (Ronan the Accuser). Christopher Orr, The Atlantic, "Guardians of the Galaxy 2: Twice Is (Still) the Charm," 5 May 2017

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Can a 21st-century writer of topical take-no-prisoners satires find happiness in the quaint but rollicking form of the 18th-century picaresque? Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: A Boisterous ‘Low Road’ Finds the Potholes in Capitalism," 7 Mar. 2018 At his or her best, a serial impostor lives out a real-life picaresque, a thrillingly disjointed string of dramatic episodes. Sadie Stein, Town & Country, "Why Are Rich People So Easily Fooled?," 26 Feb. 2017 For the first time, women were at the center of the picaresque. Cnt Editors, Condé Nast Traveler, "The 45 Best Travel Films of All Time," 11 May 2018 Berger's philosophically dense picaresque is a prime opportunity for a gifted solo performer. F. Kathleen Foley, latimes.com, "A librarian's obsession with a book that's 113 years overdue in 'Underneath the Lintel'," 3 Nov. 2017 This comic picaresque, which opened on Monday night at Playwrights Horizons under the direction of Robert O’Hara, follows Bella (Ashley D. Kelley), who is celebrated in her hometown, Tupelo, Miss., for her shape. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: In ‘Bella,’ an Indomitable Heroine Goes West," 12 June 2017 It is called the novel of the picaresque, which is an adventure story where the main character travels around, usually with a sidekick, and has adventures. Randy Blaser, chicagotribune.com, "Column: Some help for your summer reading list," 8 June 2017

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

Adjective

1810, in the meaning defined above

Noun

1895, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for picaresque

Adjective

Spanish picaresco, from pícaro

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Dictionary Entries near picaresque

Picardy

picardy third

picarel

picaresque

Picariae

picarian

Picarii

Statistics for picaresque

Last Updated

10 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for picaresque

The first known use of picaresque was in 1810

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More Definitions for picaresque

picaresque

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of picaresque

: telling a story about the adventures of a usually playful and dishonest character

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