ro·​co·​co | \ rə-ˈkō-(ˌ)kō How to pronounce rococo (audio) , rō-kə-ˈkō How to pronounce rococo (audio) \

Definition of rococo

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: rococo work or style



Definition of rococo (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : of or relating to an artistic style especially of the 18th century characterized by fanciful curved asymmetrical forms and elaborate ornamentation
b : of or relating to an 18th century musical style marked by light gay ornamentation and departure from thorough-bass and polyphony
2 : excessively ornate or intricate

Keep scrolling for more

Did You Know?


In the 18th century, French artists rebelled against the ponderousness of Baroque style and began to create light, delicate interior decorations, furniture, and architectural elements characterized by fanciful curved asymmetrical forms and elaborate ornamentation. The name of their new style, rococo, has been traced to the French rocaille, a term that evoked the ornamental use of rock and shell forms. In time, rococo was also applied to similarly ornamented and intimate styles of painting and music. But all fashions fade, and by the mid-1800s the rococo style was deemed excessively ornate and out-of-date. Now rococo is often used with mild disdain to describe the overly elaborate.

Examples of rococo in a Sentence

Adjective The chairs are carved in a rococo style.
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The front shows the figures of Moses and Aaron, while the back displays biblical scenes and imagery surrounded by a rococo arch. J.s. Marcus, WSJ, "Treasures of Judaica From the Sassoon Family Collection," 11 Dec. 2020 But in the throes of the health crisis, the bell-ringing ceremonies that mark the completion of an offering have gone from rococo to ridiculous. Owen Thomas,, "The IPO market is surprisingly healthy. Is that good for the Bay Area?," 25 Nov. 2020 Both smack of rococo excess and impracticality, literally cloying in their brown sugary extravagance. Ryan P. Smith, Smithsonian Magazine, "Where Nature and Artifice Collide," 4 Nov. 2020 This hanging wall clock/thermometer is unquestionably in the French rococo style that was originally used to describe the fountains and grottos in the gardens of Louis XIV's Palace of Versailles. Helaine Fendelman And Joe Rosson, Star Tribune, "Hanging wall clock/thermometer made in the Louis XV style," 20 Oct. 2020 Watteau’s a rococo artist, and 1717 is 75 years before Louis XVI got the axe. Brian T. Allen, National Review, "The Best Museum in the World," 3 Oct. 2020 After Teruzzi was made plenipotentiary to the Italian colony in Cyrenaica, the two splashed out on sumptuous receptions and a splendid rococo residence. Caroline Moorehead, WSJ, "‘The Perfect Fascist’ Review: Mussolini’s Man," 2 Oct. 2020 Kassewitz revisits rococo, an 18th-century French style, with one eye on the waters lapping at Miami, her hometown. Washington Post, "In the galleries: Cultures, collisions, climate change and French connections," 10 Jan. 2020 At the Moschino runway show in June, Rowan took an edgier approach to milkmaid dressing, wearing a two-piece rococo-print fit with platform heels. Teen Vogue, "From Kylie Jenner to Rowan Blanchard, Milkmaid Fashion Is the New Trend We Can't Get Enough Of," 16 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective Counting cupholders exposes the rococo nature of the minivan wars. Annie White, Car and Driver, "How Does 2021 Toyota Sienna Stack Up to the Pacifica and Odyssey?," 24 May 2020 The rooms, which are on display on the first floor in the Richelieu wing, and include a formal state dining room and a gilded drawing room, are prime examples of the elaborate, 18th-century rococo aesthetic. Betsy Blumenthal, Condé Nast Traveler, "13 Things You Didn’t Know About the Louvre," 18 May 2020 As for his personal design preference—the gold and rococo decor of his New York City penthouse is inspired by the Palace of Versailles. Isabel Garcia, House Beautiful, "New Trump Administration Proposal Could Mandate all Federal Architecture Is a Certain Style," 7 Feb. 2020 The set, while minimalist, was suggestive of a rococo palace. Nicholas M. Gallagher, National Review, "Figaro in Kentucky," 21 Mar. 2020 The land at Kilometre 152 of Highway BR-174 is rococo in its greenness and relentlessly damp. Elizabeth Barber, The New Yorker, "A Nun’s Journey in the Amazon," 17 Feb. 2020 The most rococo of them all is the Detroit-style pizza. Marian Bull, Saveur, "The Best Pizza at Home, With the Gear You Already Have," 30 May 2019 Several books of rococo paintings are opened to pages with scenes that echo the ones Kassewitz painted. Washington Post, "In the galleries: Cultures, collisions, climate change and French connections," 10 Jan. 2020 The wings might belong to cherubs, common in rococo scenes. Washington Post, "In the galleries: Cultures, collisions, climate change and French connections," 10 Jan. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rococo.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of rococo


1835, in the meaning defined above


1830, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for rococo


French, irregular from rocaille rocaille

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rococo

Listen to Our Podcast about rococo

Statistics for rococo

Cite this Entry

“Rococo.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for rococo



English Language Learners Definition of rococo

: of or relating to a style of artistic expression that involves fancy curved forms and much decoration and was popular in the 18th century

More from Merriam-Webster on rococo

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for rococo

Comments on rococo

What made you want to look up rococo? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!