vaude·​ville | \ ˈvȯd-vəl How to pronounce vaudeville (audio) , ˈväd-, ˈvōd-, -ˌvil How to pronounce vaudeville (audio) ; ˈvȯ-də- How to pronounce vaudeville (audio) , ˈvä-, ˈvō- \

Definition of vaudeville

1 : a light often comic theatrical piece frequently combining pantomime, dialogue, dancing, and song
2 : stage entertainment consisting of various acts (such as performing animals, comedians, or singers)

Other Words from vaudeville

vaudevillian \ ˌvȯd-​ˈvil-​yən How to pronounce vaudeville (audio) , ˌväd-​ , ˌvōd-​ ; ˌvȯ-​də-​ , ˌvä-​ , ˌvō-​ \ noun or adjective

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In the 15th century, several amusing songs became popular across France. These songs were said to have been written by a man named Olivier Basselin who lived in the valley of the river Vire in northwest France. The songs eventually became known as chansons de vau-de-Vire, meaning "songs of the valley of Vire." Other people began writing and performing similar songs, and as this form of entertainment became more widespread, the link to vau-de-Vire was forgotten. The nickname was shortened to one word, vaudevire. As the phenomenon spread beyond France, further changes in pronunciation and spelling shifted vaudevire into vaudeville. The meaning also broadened to include humorous performances and variety shows.

Examples of vaudeville in a Sentence

She became a big star in vaudeville.
Recent Examples on the Web But the heat of August would wilt performers and audiences, forcing nickelodeons and vaudeville houses to close for the summer. Ron Grossman, Chicago Tribune, 24 July 2022 Palmer admires multitalented performers like Carol Burnett, Eddie Murphy and Elaine May, whose acts call back to American vaudeville. New York Times, 22 July 2022 The revival, which came six decades after the original, only scored one Tony nomination for Jared Grimes’ take on Eddie Ryan, a dancer that Brice meets doing vaudeville. Rebecca Rubin, Variety, 11 July 2022 Connor Palace opened as a vaudeville and movie theater back in 1922 but has been home to Broadway-style entertainment since 1988. cleveland, 7 July 2022 Never have performer and part been more perfectly matched than Streisand and vaudeville legend Fanny Brice. Globe Staff,, 26 May 2022 Theater, brass bands, opera, concerts, vaudeville, dance, and various recitals have entertained Phoenicians for well over 100 years. Donna Reiner, The Arizona Republic, 22 Apr. 2022 But Keaton also looks surreal because the Surrealists were feeding off the same sources as Keaton was, in circus and vaudeville and the music hall and stage magic. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 24 Jan. 2022 Midway through an aside about her grandparents’ traveling vaudeville days, Bryce Dallas Howard‘s eyes light up. Jen Yamatostaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 10 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'vaudeville.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of vaudeville

1827, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vaudeville

borrowed from French, "satirical song, comic theatrical piece," going back to Middle French (chançons de) vaul de ville "topical satirical songs," earlier vau de vire, named (according to 16th-century French authors) after the val de Vire, valley of the Vire River in Normandy, where such songs were allegedly composed

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The first known use of vaudeville was in 1827

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Last Updated

3 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Vaudeville.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for vaudeville


vaude·​ville | \ ˈvȯd-vəl How to pronounce vaudeville (audio) \

Kids Definition of vaudeville

: theatrical entertainment made up of songs, dances, and comic acts

More from Merriam-Webster on vaudeville

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


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