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grotesque

[groh-tesk] /groʊˈtɛsk/
adjective
1.
odd or unnatural in shape, appearance, or character; fantastically ugly or absurd; bizarre.
2.
fantastic in the shaping and combination of forms, as in decorative work combining incongruous human and animal figures with scrolls, foliage, etc.
noun
3.
any grotesque object, design, person, or thing.
Origin of grotesque
1555-1565
1555-65; < French < Italian grottesco (as noun, grottesca grotesque decoration such as was apparently found in excavated dwellings), derivative of grotta. See grotto, -esque
Related forms
grotesquely, adverb
grotesqueness, noun
ungrotesque, adjective
Synonyms
1. distorted, deformed, weird, antic, wild. See fantastic.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for grotesque
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Mr. O'Carroll, without answering by voice, gave a grotesque sort of signal between a wink and a beckon.

    Devereux, Complete Edward Bulwer-Lytton
  • The outrage on the Warden was not so grotesque, but the effect was the same.

    The Underdog F. Hopkinson Smith
  • Tibbitts dancing furiously with a lady in silken attire, and striving in vain to do the high, grotesque dancing of the Parisian.

    Nasby in Exile David R. Locke
  • And all waited on what the grotesque, bloated figure they watched might reveal.

    The Bluff of the Hawk Anthony Gilmore
  • Her appearance at first borders on the grotesque, but is presently seen to be nearer the august.

    Reminiscences, 1819-1899 Julia Ward Howe.
British Dictionary definitions for grotesque

grotesque

/ɡrəʊˈtɛsk/
adjective
1.
strangely or fantastically distorted; bizarre: a grotesque reflection in the mirror
2.
of or characteristic of the grotesque in art
3.
absurdly incongruous; in a ludicrous context: a grotesque turn of phrase
noun
4.
a 16th-century decorative style in which parts of human, animal, and plant forms are distorted and mixed
5.
a decorative device, as in painting or sculpture, in this style
6.
(printing) the family of 19th-century sans serif display types
7.
any grotesque person or thing
Derived Forms
grotesquely, adverb
grotesqueness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from French, from Old Italian (pittura) grottesca cave painting, from grottesco of a cave, from grotta cave; see grotto
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 grotesque
adj.

c.1600s, originally a noun (1560s), from Middle French crotesque (16c., Modern French grotesque), from Italian grottesco, literally "of a cave," from grotta (see grotto). The usual explanation is that the word first was used of paintings found on the walls of basements of Roman ruins (Italian pittura grottesca), which OED finds "intrinsically plausible." Originally "fanciful, fantastic," sense became pejorative after mid-18c. Related: Grotesquely; grotesqueness.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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