Definition of slapstick
1 : a device made of two flat pieces of wood fastened at one end so as to make a loud noise when used by an actor to strike a person
2 : comedy stressing farce and horseplay; also : activity resembling slapstick
slapstickyplay \ˈslap-ˌsti-kē\ adjective
slapstick was our Word of the Day on 10/27/2015. Hear the podcast!
Examples of slapstick in a sentence
an actor whose roles range from slapstick to serious drama
a lowbrow comedy that relies heavily on slapstick for its laughs
Did You Know?
The idea that knocking people about made for good comedy dates as far back as the Greco-Roman theater, where clowns rambunctiously "attacked" one another onstage. The object from which the word slapstick derives, however, was invented in Italy in the 16th century. Renaissance comedy typically featured stock characters placed in ridiculous situations, and one such ubiquitous character was Harlequin, whose brilliant costuming made him easily recognizable. Harlequin was given to wielding a paddle which was designed to make a terrible noise when he hit someone, usually to the delight of the audience. This paddle was eventually known in English as a "slapstick," and it became a symbol of that type of highly physical comedy. The word slapstick then came to refer to the comedy itself.
First Known Use of slapstick
SLAPSTICK Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of slapstick for English Language Learners
: comedy that involves physical action (such as falling down or hitting people)
Seen and Heard
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