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

Keep scrolling for more

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

Noun 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. Verb this comedy sketch mindlessly travesties the hard work of relief workers around the world
See More
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The distorted coverage of hate crimes by the mainstream press is a travesty. WSJ, "Social Division and Reporting Hate Crimes," 22 May 2020 Yet despite the best of intentions, the virtual consultations set up for me at my hospital have been a travesty because of glitches in technology. Susan Gubar, New York Times, "What Cancer Has Taught Me About Fear," 15 Apr. 2020 Other regulators and consumer activists tried to block that deal, calling it a travesty. Washington Post, "California crisis of fires, blackouts decades in the making," 14 Nov. 2019 Guests at Home As Staples belongs to the Lakers, the Clippers play more than their fair share of noon games in Los Angeles, a bio-rhythmic travesty for players and coaches accustomed to working nights. Michael Powell, New York Times, "The Lakers, the Clippers and a Rare Fight for L.A. Basketball Primacy," 21 Feb. 2020 Tired of unceasingly pleading after each of the travesties: Stop the violence! Exhaustingly tired of it seemingly falling on deaf ear after deaf ear. Roy S. Johnson |, al, "Johnson: Grant us peace from gun violence," 27 Jan. 2020 There are some travesties relating to executive compensation, product safety and disobedience of laws. Jason Zweig, WSJ, "Why Invest? A 22-Year-Old’s Tough Questions About Capitalism," 24 Jan. 2020 Election travesties such as this one contributed to a growing national sense, over the past 60 years, that the voting process should ask more of us than the single push of a button; that we should be required to evaluate each race on the ballot. Gilbert Garcia,, "Garcia: Texas Dems launch misguided effort to save straight-ticket voting," 7 Mar. 2020 But this is a description of the reality that’s already in place rather than a preview of a new world now unfolding; Trump’s acquittal for offenses against the Constitution was a travesty that the Constitution made possible. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "History Will Remember Democrats’ Timidity, Too," 7 Feb. 2020 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about travesty

Time Traveler for travesty

Time Traveler

The first known use of travesty was in 1673

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about travesty

Statistics for travesty

Last Updated

3 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Travesty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for travesty


How to pronounce travesty (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of travesty

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

Keep scrolling for more

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).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

May 2020 Words of the Day Quiz

  • a blooming wisteria tree
  • Which is a synonym of exiguous?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Dictionary Devil

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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