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[kahr-nuh-vuh l] /ˈkɑr nə vəl/
a traveling amusement show, having sideshows, rides, etc.
any merrymaking, revelry, or festival, as a program of sports or entertainment:
a winter carnival.
the season immediately preceding Lent, often observed with merrymaking; Shrovetide.
1540-50; < Italian carnevale, Old Italian carnelevare taking meat away, equivalent to carne flesh (< Latin carnem, accusative of caro) + levare < Latin levāre to lift
Related forms
carnivalesque, carnivallike, adjective
precarnival, adjective
2. fair, celebration, fete, holiday. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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Examples for carnival
  • It's a celebration or carnival to mark the end of winter.
  • Soon cowboys herd the ponies through town to the carnival grounds.
  • Thanks for submitting this post to our blog carnival.
  • But the event already has the grisly carnival atmosphere of a public execution.
  • There's a carnival atmosphere here, a carnival for nerds.
  • The atmosphere at the event is more carnival than campaign rally.
  • Though state fairs sprang up as agricultural and educational venues, carnival rides are now must-haves.
  • For a full list of past carnival roundups and the hosts thoughts on the entries you can find them here.
  • Wandering musicians and mimes bring a carnival spirit.
  • It was as if a carnival midway had been reconceived by radically libidinous techno-artists.
British Dictionary definitions for carnival


  1. a festive occasion or period marked by merrymaking, processions, etc: esp in some Roman Catholic countries, the period just before Lent
  2. (as modifier) a carnival atmosphere
a travelling fair having merry-go-rounds, etc
a show or display arranged as an amusement
(Austral) a sports meeting
Word Origin
C16: from Italian carnevale, from Old Italian carnelevare a removing of meat (referring to the Lenten fast)
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 carnival
1549, "time of merrymaking before Lent," from It. carnevale "Shrove Tuesday," from older It. forms like Milanese *carnelevale, O.Pisan carnelevare "to remove meat," lit. "raising flesh," from L. caro "flesh" + levare "lighten, raise;" folk etymology is from M.L. carne vale " 'flesh, farewell.' " Meaning "a circus or fair" is 1931, N.Amer., as is the short form carny for "one who works at a carnival."
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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