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

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 Then came the travesty that was the 2020 draft lottery. Helene St. James, Detroit Free Press, 18 May 2021 Bush’s only major international partner in the travesty was the U.K. and Prime Minister Tony Blair. Los Angeles Times, 3 May 2021 In the midst of trillion-dollar bailouts, the crushing debt saddling the younger generation is a travesty. WSJ, 12 May 2021 State has a new volunteer effort to prevent destruction like the Birthing Rock travesty. Robert Gehrke, The Salt Lake Tribune, 2 May 2021 The travesty reached across the southern border, too. Dave Lieber, Dallas News, 29 Apr. 2021 As Katrina had been more than 15 years ago, the travesty in Texas is a shocking punctuation to the relentless attack on the notion of the public. Adolph Reed Jr., The New Republic, 27 Apr. 2021 The film looks at the travesty of a trial against the men who staged a Vietnam War protest at the 1968 Democratic Convention, which descended into a riot. Lisa Rosen, Los Angeles Times, 7 Apr. 2021 To overturn their verdict based on a selective, self-interested collection of dubious ballots would be a partisan travesty, which is exactly why Rita Hart is asking the partisan Democratic House to do it. Rich Lowry, National Review, 26 Mar. 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

6 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Travesty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Jun. 2021.

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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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