noun tra·ves·ty \ ˈtra-və-stē \
Updated on: 10 Apr 2018

Definition of travesty

plural travesties
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

travesty was our Word of the Day on 09/16/2017. Hear the podcast!

Examples of travesty in a Sentence

  1. It is a travesty and a tragedy that so many people would be denied the right to vote.

  2. The trial was a travesty of justice.

Recent Examples of travesty from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of 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 2vest

travesty Synonyms

Synonym Discussion of 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



verb trav·es·ty \ ˈtra-və-stē \

Definition of travesty

travestied; travestying
: to make a travesty of : parody

Examples of travesty in a Sentence

  1. this comedy sketch mindlessly travesties the hard work of relief workers around the world

First Known Use of travesty


TRAVESTY Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of travesty for English Language Learners

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

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to lower or disgrace the reputation of

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