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 With all its disfigurements and omissions, its heightening of the trivial and its diminishment of the significant, its vulgarization of Hemingway’s struggle to grapple with the great theme in his tragic final years, this volume is a travesty. Harrison Smith, Washington Post, "Barbara Probst Solomon, writer who chronicled Franco’s rule in Spain, dies at 90," 2 Sep. 2019 In addition to the law-firm conflict, Alex Acosta, who served in Donald Trump’s Cabinet with Barr, was the U.S. Attorney in Miami when Epstein received his travesty of a plea deal. Joyce White Vance, Time, "William Barr Is the Wrong Person to Lead the Jeffrey Epstein Investigation," 15 Aug. 2019 Mr Trump’s exclusionary vision of America is a travesty. The Economist, "The 2020 campaign will be more racially divisive than 2016 was," 17 July 2019 Simply put: Social media thinks this is a travesty. Megan Stein, Country Living, "Disney Is Apparently Remaking ‘Home Alone’ and Fans Are Furious," 7 Aug. 2019 This travesty calls for a strong moral voice from every sector of society. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Why hold immigrant kids in unsanitary for-profit camps?," 8 July 2019 The biggest travesty in college athletics has nothing to do with the ridiculous notion that football and basketball players should be paid lucrative salaries to compete in their sports. Mike Bianchi,, "College baseball should be ashamed of ‘dehumanizing’ way it treats unpaid assistants, debt-ridden players | Commentary," 29 June 2019 All Americans, as well as the GOP, need to speak out against this travesty that is our president. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Readers react to inflammatory, racist remarks (7/16/19)," 16 July 2019 Which was a travesty, because Kelly, out of some 800 acts playing Summerfest, is definitely one of most splendid vocalists this year. Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Summerfest 2019: The National, Tori Kelly and more of the best and worst from the side stages on Day 5," 1 July 2019 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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Statistics for travesty

Last Updated

8 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for travesty

The first known use of travesty was in 1673

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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

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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).


to engage in dissolute behavior

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