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

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 Even if that happens, State’s malicious role in this travesty deserves Mr. Pompeo’s attention. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "Will the U.S. Extradite an Innocent Man?," 4 Nov. 2018 And of course most responsible for this travesty, though, of all these delays and all the foot dragging, are the Democrats. Fox News, "Ingraham: How to defeat the swamp's efforts to take down Trump's nominees," 20 Apr. 2018 Some of us are terrified by the thought of such a travesty. Dahleen Glanton,, "Even Trump's opponents need him to succeed in North Korea," 11 June 2018 The travesty that has ensued is that so many Americans reject that right and the man who stands by it. Marcos Bretón, sacbee, "Kaepernick's story remains the same. What that says about us. | The Sacramento Bee," 13 Apr. 2018 My guess is that the public will express its disgust in a legal system that has made a travesty of impartiality. WSJ, "The I-Word That Dare Not Speak Its Name," 5 Sep. 2018 Just eyeballing it, most media professionals seem to consider the 2016 outcome a travesty yet avert their eyes from its decisive intrigue. Holman W. Jenkins, WSJ, "New Hope for the Truth of 2016?," 16 Nov. 2018

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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Statistics for travesty

Last Updated

18 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for travesty

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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More from Merriam-Webster on travesty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for travesty

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).


incapable of being surmounted or overcome

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