vaude·​ville | \ˈvȯd-vəl, ˈväd-, ˈvōd-, -ˌvil;ˈvȯ-də-, 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)

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Other Words from vaudeville

vaudevillian \ˌvȯd-​ˈvil-​yən, 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

Unfortunately for me, vaudeville was already dead and gone. Stephanie Nolasco, Fox News, "Lucille Ball dished on 'I Love Lucy' co-stars to reporter, thought television went 'downhill'," 1 Aug. 2018 Reeves had held a number of jobs prior to law enforcement such as trapeze performer with Barnum & Bailey, farmer and vaudeville performer. Dawn Mitchell, Indianapolis Star, "Retro Indy: The execution of George Barrett," 24 Mar. 2014 Chicago deliberately transforms the art of vaudeville into a metaphor for riotous 1920s Chicago. Hugh Hunter,, "'Chicago' at Broadway Theatre of Pitman: Lots of talent, entertainment," 8 July 2018 Archeophone does small pressings that target music geeks, scholars and lovers of vaudeville. Geoff Edgers, Washington Post, "This mysterious recording was the missing musical link to an era when racism was the tune," 22 June 2018 Especially the tile-domed Balboa Theatre, a 1,500-seat vaudeville and movie palace built in 1924 at Fourth Avenue and E Street downtown. Roger Showley,, "Steve Karo, who led the effort to save Balboa Theatre, dies at 75," 21 June 2018 Edmonson was a square peg even then, with an inimitable warble that would’ve been a natural fit in the days of vaudeville. Andrew Dansby, Houston Chronicle, "Kat Edmonson sings about the light and dark in the night," 16 May 2018 A century ago, as the West Rock Theater, the venue offered silent movies and vaudeville acts. Christopher Arnott,, "A Coarse, Cacophonous, Compelling 'Cabaret' In New Haven," 26 June 2018 But here — thanks to the vaudeville deftness of Robert Dorfman’s Stephano and Andrew Weems’ Trinculo, both having a field day with Manoel Felciano’s preeningly lecherous Caliban — the comedy is reborn. Charles Mcnulty,, "'The Tempest' at the Old Globe: Kate Burton casts a benevolent spell as Prospera," 26 June 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for vaudeville

Last Updated

19 Nov 2018

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Time Traveler for vaudeville

The first known use of vaudeville was in 1827

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English Language Learners Definition of vaudeville

: 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 \

Kids Definition of vaudeville

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

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with vaudeville

Spanish Central: Translation of vaudeville

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

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