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)
vaudevillianplay \ˌvȯd-ˈvil-yən, ˌväd-, ˌvōd-; ˌvȯ-də-, ˌvä-, ˌvō-\ noun or adjective
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Examples of vaudeville in a Sentence
She became a big star in vaudeville.
Recent Examples of vaudeville from the Web
There's an inconsistent tone, with horrific moments spliced with satire and detours into vaudeville and a few moments when it's kidnapped into a heist movie.
Classic musical about a woman's career in vaudeville and beyond.
The musical play — really a kind of vaudeville-style revue — follows the misadventures of Johnny, a small-town innocent who believes in America's mission as a world leader of peace and democracy.
Their mostly wordless performance style is a mix of clowning, acrobatics, sleight of hand, visual spectacle and old-fashioned vaudeville.
In this number, the influence of vaudeville and Fosse-style moves is easy to see: The roots of Fosse’s signature style were actually in burlesque.
The new routines are both slyly satirical and cheerfully vulgar, and make for a pretty darned funny evening of vaudeville-style entertainment.
Until the late 1950s, the Blue Room offered a vaudeville-style bill instead of a star performer.
Steven Lee Johnson portrays both a vaudeville-style soothsayer and Emperor Caesar himself.
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.
Did You Know?
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.
Origin and Etymology of 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
First Known Use: 1827See Words from the same year
VAUDEVILLE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of vaudeville for English Language Learners
: a type of entertainment that was popular in the U.S. in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and that had many different performers doing songs, dances, and comic acts
VAUDEVILLE Defined for Kids
Definition of vaudeville for Students
: theatrical entertainment made up of songs, dances, and comic acts
Seen and Heard
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