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[kahr-toon] /kɑrˈtun/
a sketch or drawing, usually humorous, as in a newspaper or periodical, symbolizing, satirizing, or caricaturing some action, subject, or person of popular interest.
Fine Arts. a full-scale design for a picture, ornamental motif or pattern, or the like, to be transferred to a fresco, tapestry, etc.
resembling a cartoon or caricature:
The novel is full of predictable, cartoon characters, never believable as real people.
verb (used with object)
to represent by a cartoon.
verb (used without object)
to draw cartoons.
Origin of cartoon
1665-75; < Italian cartone pasteboard, stout paper, a drawing on such paper, equivalent to cart(a) paper (see carte) + -one augmentative suffix
Related forms
cartoonish, adjective
cartoonist, noun
uncartooned, adjective
Can be confused
burlesque, caricature, cartoon, parody, satire (see synonym study at burlesque; see synonym study at satire)
carton, cartoon. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for cartoonist
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • When we speak of Sherwin, inevitably we think of Frank Beard, the cartoonist, whose jokes were as original as his pictures.

    The Story of Chautauqua Jesse Lyman Hurlbut
  • He had been the cartoonist of the college magazine when I was its editor.

    If You Don't Write Fiction Charles Phelps Cushing
  • The title and legend are written on a piece of paper, which, enclosed in an envelope, is then handed over to the cartoonist.

    The History of "Punch" M. H. Spielmann
  • The men who have borne the title of Punch's cartoonist are fifteen in number.

    The History of "Punch" M. H. Spielmann
  • From the latter the cartoonist builds up the century's history as recorded in its great events.

British Dictionary definitions for cartoonist


a humorous or satirical drawing, esp one in a newspaper or magazine, concerning a topical event
Also called comic strip. a sequence of drawings in a newspaper, magazine, etc, relating a comic or adventurous situation
a full-size preparatory sketch for a fresco, tapestry, mosaic, etc, from which the final work is traced or copied
Derived Forms
cartoonist, noun
Word Origin
C17: from Italian cartone pasteboard, sketch on stiff paper; see carton
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 cartoonist

1855, from cartoon (n.) + -ist.



1670s, "a drawing on strong paper (used as a model for another work)," from French carton, from Italian cartone "strong, heavy paper, pasteboard," thus "preliminary sketches made by artists on such paper" (see carton). Extension to comical drawings in newspapers and magazines is 1843.

Punch has the benevolence to announce, that in an early number of his ensuing Volume he will astonish the Parliamentary Committee by the publication of several exquisite designs, to be called Punch's Cartoons! ["Punch," June 24, 1843]
Also see -oon.


1864 (implied in cartooned), from cartoon (n.). Related: Cartooning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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