Grotesque

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Dictionary Meaning and Definition on 'Grotesque'

Grotesque Meaning and Definition from WordNet (r) 2.0
    grotesque adj
  1. distorted and unnatural in shape or size; abnormal and hideous; "tales of grotesque serpents eight fathoms long that churned the seas"; "twisted into monstrous shapes" [syn: monstrous, unnatural]
  2. ludicrously odd; "Hamlet's assumed antic disposition"; "fantastic Halloween costumes"; "a grotesque reflection in the mirror" [syn: antic, fantastic, fantastical] n : art characterized by an incongruous mixture of parts of humans and animals interwoven with plants
Grotesque Meaning and Definition from Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary (1913)
    Grotesque \Gro*tesque\, n.
  1. A whimsical figure, or scene, such as is found in old crypts and grottoes. --Dryden.
  2. Artificial grotto-work.
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Wikipedia Meaning and Definition on 'Grotesque'


The word grotesque comes from the same Latin root as "Grotto", meaning a small cave or hollow. The original meaning was restricted to an extravagant style of Ancient Roman decorative art rediscovered and then copied in Rome at the end of the 15th century. The "caves" were in fact rooms and corridors of the Domus Aurea, the unfinished palace complex started by Nero after the Great Fire of Rome in AD 64, which had become overgrown and buried, until they were broken into again, mostly from above.

In modern English, grotesque has come to be used as a general adjective for the strange, fantastic, ugly, incongruous, unpleasant, or disgusting, and thus is often used to describe weird shapes and distorted forms such as Halloween masks. In art, performance, and literature, grotesque, however, may also refer to something that simultaneously invokes in an audience a feeling of uncomfortable bizarreness as well as empathic pity. More specifically, the grotesque forms on Gothic buildings, when not used as drain-spouts, should not be called gargoyles, but rather referred to simply as grotesques, or chimeras.

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Grotesque Sample Sentences in News


  • Grotesque grammar in note to PM
    A particularly unwieldy sentence in a submission to the Prime Minister was thought so grammatically “grotesque” that it could jeopardise a sensitive request. Read more on this news related to 'Grotesque'
  • Why I hate Transfer Deadline Day
    Over-hyped, vulgar and deeply unsatisfying, football's Transfer Deadline Day is truly the celebration of the grotesque, writes Josh Warwick Read more on this news related to 'Grotesque'
  • Packers now selling grotesque looking 22-inch kielbasa with beer cheese
    When you're an NFL team named for a company that canned animal by-products under the slogan, "A meat market on your pantry shelf," and your fans wear cheese as a hat, your stadium better have a menu to match. Enter The Horse Collar, a 22-inch Kielbasa covered in beer cheese and fried sauerkraut. Read more on this news related to 'Grotesque'

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