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

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)

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from vaudeville

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

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.

Examples of vaudeville in a Sentence

She became a big star in vaudeville.
Recent Examples on the Web Before the war, my uncle and my dad did vaudeville in Hollywood at 20th Century Fox. Samantha Laine Perfas, The Christian Science Monitor, "Sacrifice, reconciliation, hope: Readers reflect on Memorial Day," 21 May 2020 He was raised middle class in Shaker Heights and fell in love with sketch comedy after seeing the 1950s vaudeville silliness of bandleader Spike Jones and the City Slickers. cleveland, "Fred Willard, master comic who starred in ‘Waiting for Guffman,’ has died," 16 May 2020 Barbra Streisand won best actress for playing vaudeville star Fanny Brice in Funny Girl (1968). Paul Grein, Billboard, "Will Renée Zellweger's Portrayal of Judy Garland Win an Oscar?," 7 Oct. 2019 Those in the game now may encounter virtual rehearsals throughout the day, but expect something that’s communal, gamified and surrealist, all of it furthering the game’s modern virtual-reality vaudeville. Los Angeles Times, "Actors sheltering at home perform in live VR experiences, making case for new theater form," 26 Apr. 2020 The theater, a 1914 vaudeville house that was restored for a re-opening in 2016, has a capacity of about 750 people. Mary Colurso |, al, "Jason Isbell helps Doug Jones court voters at campaign event in Birmingham," 3 Mar. 2020 Alda first learned how to get and keep people’s attention from his parents, vaudeville performers who christened him Alphonso Joseph D’Abruzzo. Ellen Mccarthy, Washington Post, "Alan Alda would like your attention," 12 Mar. 2020 This groundbreaking work mixing vaudeville with searing pathos is part of the Odyssey’s Circa ’69 season celebrating plays that emerged when the theater was founded. Los Angeles Times, "L.A. theater for spring: An accidental Stephen Sondheim festival, ‘GoT’ star as Macbeth," 10 Mar. 2020 He is treated by a psychiatric doctor (an agile and witty Thom Sesma), who, in a bonus for the audience, lectures in vaudeville pastiche numbers about the nature of recollection. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: Lies of Love and Memory Swirl Through ‘Unknown Soldier’," 9 Mar. 2020

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about vaudeville

Time Traveler for vaudeville

Time Traveler

The first known use of vaudeville was in 1827

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast about vaudeville

Statistics for vaudeville

Last Updated

3 Jun 2020

Cite this Entry

“Vaudeville.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 7 Jul. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for vaudeville


How to pronounce vaudeville (audio) How to pronounce vaudeville (audio) How to pronounce vaudeville (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of vaudeville

US : 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


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

Kids Definition of vaudeville

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

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on vaudeville

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with vaudeville

Spanish Central: Translation of vaudeville

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

Comments on vaudeville

What made you want to look up vaudeville? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


See Definitions and Examples »

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

A More Exception(al) Quiz

  • hot dog  hot dog  hot dog  hot dog cat
  • Which of the following words is not a synonym for ‘a young person’?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!