trav·​es·​ty | \ ˈtra-və-stē How to pronounce travesty (audio) \
plural travesties

Definition of travesty

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a debased, distorted, or grossly inferior imitation a travesty of justice
2 : a burlesque translation or literary or artistic imitation usually grotesquely incongruous in style, treatment, or subject matter


travestied; travestying

Definition of travesty (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to make a travesty of : parody

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Choose the Right Synonym for travesty


caricature, burlesque, parody, travesty mean a comic or grotesque imitation. caricature implies ludicrous exaggeration of the characteristic features of a subject. caricatures of politicians in cartoons burlesque implies mockery especially through giving a serious or lofty subject a frivolous treatment. a nightclub burlesque of a trial in court parody applies especially to treatment of a trivial or ludicrous subject in the exactly imitated style of a well-known author or work. a witty parody of a popular novel travesty implies that the subject remains unchanged but that the style is extravagant or absurd. this production is a travesty of the opera

Examples of travesty in a Sentence


It is a travesty and a tragedy that so many people would be denied the right to vote. The trial was a travesty of justice.


this comedy sketch mindlessly travesties the hard work of relief workers around the world
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

This travesty calls for a strong moral voice from every sector of society. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Why hold immigrant kids in unsanitary for-profit camps?," 8 July 2019 The biggest travesty in college athletics has nothing to do with the ridiculous notion that football and basketball players should be paid lucrative salaries to compete in their sports. Mike Bianchi,, "College baseball should be ashamed of ‘dehumanizing’ way it treats unpaid assistants, debt-ridden players | Commentary," 29 June 2019 All Americans, as well as the GOP, need to speak out against this travesty that is our president. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Readers react to inflammatory, racist remarks (7/16/19)," 16 July 2019 Which was a travesty, because Kelly, out of some 800 acts playing Summerfest, is definitely one of most splendid vocalists this year. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Summerfest 2019: The National, Tori Kelly and more of the best and worst from the side stages on Day 5," 1 July 2019 Where is the reader to turn for more information about the travesty birth, staged in a public house in 1810, in which, with the assistance of a pair of bellows, a man was delivered of a Cheshire cheese? Caleb Crain, New York Times, "In One City, 2,000 Years of Gay History," 21 June 2018 Pell's supporters branded his conviction as a travesty of justice carried out by a jury who were seeking to pin the blame for the Catholic Church's failings on the shoulders of a man who had in fact been working hard to help victims of Church abuse. Hilary Whiteman, CNN, "Cardinal Pell back in prison while judges consider appeal," 6 June 2019 Development occurring directly on the lake would be a travesty. Chicago Tribune, Lake County News-Sun, "Talk of the County: Supporting gambling industry a matter of perspective," 10 June 2019 While this is truly a travesty, the police can’t do anything about this. Fox News, "Louisiana cops called after Taco Bell runs out of taco shells," 5 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Readers may be tempted to side at one moment with the defenders of Jewish caution and Jewish sentiment, however their instincts are travestied, and soon afterward with Zuckerman’s principled view of the autonomy of art. Cynthia Ozick, WSJ, "Appreciation: Philip Roth," 25 May 2018 Are miracle and faith being slyly travestied, or is this just another example of the going secular self-help usage? Elaine Blair, New York Times, "Mother of All Decisions: Sheila Heti’s New Novel Weighs Whether to Have a Child," 18 May 2018

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


1674, in the meaning defined at sense 2


1673, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for travesty


obsolete English travesty disguised, parodied, from French travesti, past participle of travestir to disguise, from Italian travestire, from tra- across (from Latin trans-) + vestire to dress, from Latin — more at vest entry 2

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Last Updated

27 Aug 2019

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The first known use of travesty was in 1673

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More Definitions for travesty



English Language Learners Definition of travesty

: something that is shocking, upsetting, or ridiculous because it is not what it is supposed to be

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Spanish Central: Translation of travesty

Nglish: Translation of travesty for Spanish Speakers Encyclopedia article about travesty

Comments on travesty

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


readily or continually undergoing change

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