ˈzhän-rə How to pronounce genre (audio)
: a category of artistic, musical, or literary composition characterized by a particular style, form, or content
a classic of the gothic novel genre
: kind, sort
: painting that depicts scenes or events from everyday life usually realistically

Did you know?

Genre, as you might guess from the way it sounds, comes straight from French, a language based on Latin. It's closely related to genus, a word you may have encountered in biology class. Both words contain the gen- root because they indicate that everything in a particular category (a genre or a genus) belongs to the same "family" and thus has the same origins. So the main genres of classical music would include symphonies, sonatas, and opera, and the major genres of literature would include novels, short stories, poetry, and drama. But within the category of novels, we could also say that detective novels, sci-fi novels, romance novels, and young-adult novels are separate genres.

Example Sentences

In genre fiction there is an implied contract between writer and reader that justice of a kind will be exacted; "good" may not always triumph over "evil," but the distinction between the two must be honored. Joyce Carol Oates, New York Review of Books, 14 Aug. 2003 One of the first marketers outside of hip-hop to recognize the power of the genre …  . he first sent models sashaying down the runway in 1991 in hip-hop chic, with sneakers and chunky gold chains … Johnnie L. Roberts, Newsweek, 2 Sept. 2002 Even the local Catholic archdiocesan weekly, hardly an exciting genre, offers a more provocative sampling of opinion on its editorial page. Walker Percy, "New Orleans Mon Amour," 1968, in Signposts in a Strange Land1991 This book is a classic of the mystery genre. the novel's hero is of a different genre than the traditional kind
Recent Examples on the Web His music is a genre-bending mix of folk, alternative and hip-hop. The Enquirer, 18 Nov. 2022 The filmmakers’ experience has been markedly different on Everything Everywhere, a genre-spanning sci-fi film that stars Yeoh as a laundromat owner who travels across the multiverse with newfound powers in hopes of defeating the ultimate evil. Mia Galuppo, The Hollywood Reporter, 17 Nov. 2022 Argentinian rapper and singer Nathy Peluso is blazing a trail in Latin music with her genre-bending style and inimitable voice. Pamela Avila, USA TODAY, 16 Nov. 2022 There are rappers, there are rockstars, and then there are talented genre-bending individuals who don’t allow the landscapes of music and fashion to define them. D'shonda Brown, Essence, 31 Oct. 2022 In the end, the people were treated to a rainbow of genre-bending music acts that ranged from Latin rock to reggaeton to ska. San Diego Union-Tribune, 19 Oct. 2022 Prince-Bythewood’s filmography has produced some of the most culturally relevant and genre-bending stories over the last 20 years. Clayton Davis, Variety, 13 Oct. 2022 The amusing conceit behind the entire project – expanding upon a spoof movie trailer released in 2010 – is that a Weird Al biopic functions like one of his chart-topping songs, taking the form of the genre but turning it on its head. Brian Lowry, CNN, 4 Nov. 2022 Of the people polled, 48.2 percent said crime movies were their favorite genre. Soomee Park, The Hollywood Reporter, 2 Nov. 2022 See More

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

Word History


French, from Middle French, kind, gender — more at gender

First Known Use

1770, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of genre was in 1770

Dictionary Entries Near genre

Cite this Entry

“Genre.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition



ˈzhän-rə How to pronounce genre (audio)
: a particular type or category of literary, musical, or artistic composition

More from Merriam-Webster on genre

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