trav·​es·​ty | \ˈtra-və-stē \
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

Without Amazon, the best hope for ending this travesty remains congressional repeal of the safe harbor. Phillip L. Zweig And, WSJ, "Where Does the Law Against Kickbacks Not Apply? Your Hospital," 7 May 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," 19 Apr. 2018 Purists bemoan the foreign invasion as a cultural travesty. Declan Walsh, New York Times, "Foreign Belly Dancers? Egyptians Shake Their Heads (and Hips)," 8 July 2018 The hearing promised to expose CICIG’s nasty role—including collusion with the Russian government—in the travesty suffered by the Bitkov family. Mary Anastasia O’grady, WSJ, "Guatemala, Russia and the Bitkovs," 1 July 2018 That travesty still didn't match the heartbreak of the Nats blowing a 6-0 lead to the Cardinals in Game 5 of the 2012 NLDS. Jenna West,, "When Was the Last Washington, D.C. Sports Championship?," 6 June 2018 Far-sighted bosses know their stance on China must reflect a balanced assessment, not a delusional vision of globalisation in which anything less than a triumph is considered a travesty. The Economist, "America Inc and the rage against Beijing," 28 June 2018 Well, that was the unfortunate case for Darren Criss, who documented the accidental travesty caused by none other than Taylor Swift. Abby Jones, Billboard, "Taylor Swift Accidentally Blocks Darren Criss' View During Shawn Mendes' BBMAs Performance: Watch," 21 May 2018 But the firearms used to carry out these deadly travesties? German Lopez, Vox, "Betsy DeVos’s federal school safety commission won’t look at guns," 5 June 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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The first known use of travesty was in 1673

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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

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Spanish Central: Translation of travesty

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

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having a pattern of small flowers

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