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[vawd-vil, vohd-, vaw-duh-] /ˈvɔd vɪl, ˈvoʊd-, ˈvɔ də-/
theatrical entertainment consisting of a number of individual performances, acts, or mixed numbers, as by comedians, singers, dancers, acrobats, and magicians.
Compare variety (def 9).
a theatrical piece of light or amusing character, interspersed with songs and dances.
a satirical cabaret song.
1730-40; < French, shortened alteration of Middle French chanson du vau de Vire song of the vale1 of Vire, a valley of Calvados, France, noted for satirical folksongs Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for vaudeville
  • These performances consist of vaudeville-style entertainment.
  • Later, the vaudeville duo beat each other with rubber chickens and dueled with oversize boxing gloves.
  • And yes, even vaudeville stars and politicians have been known to lie.
  • Macy has no skill in vaudeville tricks to call attention to himself: no shafts of limelight have followed him across the stage.
  • If he likes vaudeville, he goes to a music-hall, where the head-liners are top-liners.
  • Initially the new theater featured a mixed bill, alternating movies with live vaudeville acts.
  • What ensued during the following fortnight was part high drama, part vaudeville show.
  • Sociological musings give way without warning to vaudeville acts and shards of memoir.
  • vaudeville acts played along with the motion pictures.
  • At mid-century the comics were dominated by action and adventure, vaudeville and melodrama, slapstick and gags.
British Dictionary definitions for vaudeville


/ˈvəʊdəvɪl; ˈvɔː-/
(mainly US & Canadian) variety entertainment consisting of short acts such as acrobatic turns, song-and-dance routines, animal acts, etc, popular esp in the early 20th century Brit name music hall
a light or comic theatrical piece interspersed with songs and dances
Word Origin
C18: from French, from vaudevire satirical folk song, shortened from chanson du vau de Vire song of the valley of Vire, a district in Normandy where this type of song flourished
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for vaudeville

1739, "light, popular song," especially one sung on the stage, from French vaudeville, alteration (by influence of ville "town") of Middle French vaudevire, said to be from (chanson du) Vau de Vire "(song of the) valley of Vire," in the Calvados region of Normandy, first applied to the popular satirical songs of Olivier Basselin, a 15c. poet who lived in Vire.

The alternative explanation is that vaudevire derives from Middle French dialectal vauder "to go" + virer "to turn." The meaning "theatrical entertainment interspersed with songs" first recorded 1827.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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vaudeville in Culture
vaudeville [(vawd-vuhl, vaw-duh-vil)]

Light theatrical entertainment, popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, consisting of a succession of short acts. A vaudeville show usually included comedians, singers, dancers, jugglers, trained animals, magicians, and the like.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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