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


  • Amnesty Blasts Nigerian Police for Brutal 'Torture Chambers'
    A new report released Thursday by Amnesty International details routine and often grotesque instances of torture by police and military authorities in Nigeria, some of it coming as part of the government's effort to combat the terrorist group Boko Haram. Read more on this news related to 'Grotesque'
  • Jamie Dornan: Fifty Shades 'isn't grotesque'
    Jamie Dornan: Fifty Shades 'isn't grotesque' Read more on this news related to 'Grotesque'
  • Theresa May: 'Grotesque acts' will not deter us
    Theresa May said the 'grotesque' murders would not weaken the Government's resolve. Credit: Oli Scarff/PA Wire/Press Association Images It's not hard to understand the frustration in the 'Yes’ camp in Scotland in recent days, but is there any truth to their claims? Read more on this news related to 'Grotesque'

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