Word Origin & History
late 14c., from O.Fr. comedie, from L. comoedia, from Gk. komoidia "a comedy, amusing spectacle," from komodios "singer in the revels," from komos "revel, carousal" + oidos "singer, poet," from aeidein "to sing." The classical sense is similar to the modern one, but in the Middle Ages the word came to
mean poems and stories generally (albeit ones with happy endings), and the earliest Eng. sense is "narrative poem" (cf. Dante's "Commedia"). Comedy aims at entertaining by the fidelity with which it presents life as we know it; farce at raising laughter by the outrageous absurdity of the situation or characters exhibited; extravaganza at diverting by its fantastic nature; burlesque at tickling the fancy of the audience by caricaturing plays or actors with whose style it is familiar. Generalized sense of "quality of being amusing" dates from 1877.