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

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

Did you know?

The noun travesty, which current evidence dates to the 17th century, comes from the French verb travestir, meaning "to disguise." The word's roots, however, wind back through Italian to the Latin verb vestire, meaning "to clothe" or "to dress." Travesty is not the only English descendent of vestire. Others include vestment, divest, and investiture. Travesty, incidentally, can also be a verb meaning "to make a travesty of" or "to parody."

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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Over here, any team that can prevent such a travesty from happening will be our favorite., 7 June 2021 The university, facing a severe housing crunch, has accepted a take-it-or-leave-it proposal from 97-year-old billionaire Charles Munger, who has designed and aims to partially fund this travesty. Los Angeles Times, 6 Nov. 2021 But the fact that the mainstream is only catching on to the truth five decades after the fact is its own kind of travesty — and call to action. Justin Phillips, San Francisco Chronicle, 24 Oct. 2021 The latest iteration of Safari on the Mac is a travesty. Yoni Heisler, BGR, 12 Oct. 2021 Because Roe, as a matter of constitutional law, is a travesty, courts have been forced to shore up its crumbling foundation from the first. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, 4 Sep. 2021 Euljekjian, however, was tried and convicted in a Baku court in June and is now serving a 20-year prison sentence in what Voskanian calls a travesty of justice. Jackie Abramian, Forbes, 27 Sep. 2021 The Hall of Fame wouldn’t even recognize it, which was a real travesty. Andy Greene, Rolling Stone, 24 Sep. 2021 Until that happens, Republicans and supporters of a rational immigration system should sound the klaxon about a travesty of an immigration bill folded into an outrage of a spending bill. The Editors, National Review, 19 Sep. 2021 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, 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, 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


circa 1668, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1667, 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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The first known use of travesty was in 1667

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Last Updated

14 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Travesty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of travesty

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

More from Merriam-Webster on travesty

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


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