What does grotesque mean?

Definitions for grotesque

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word grotesque.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. grotesqueadjective

    art characterized by an incongruous mixture of parts of humans and animals interwoven with plants

  2. grotesque, monstrousadjective

    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"

  3. antic, fantastic, fantastical, grotesqueadjective

    ludicrously odd

    "Hamlet's assumed antic disposition"; "fantastic Halloween costumes"; "a grotesque reflection in the mirror"


  1. grotesquenoun

    A style of ornamentation characterized by fanciful combinations of intertwined forms.

  2. grotesquenoun

    Anything grotesque.

  3. grotesquenoun

    A sans serif typeface.

  4. grotesqueadjective

    distorted and unnatural in shape or size; abnormal and hideous

  5. grotesqueadjective

    disgusting or otherwise viscerally reviling.

  6. grotesqueadjective

    sans serif.

  7. Etymology: grotesque (French: grotesque), from grottesco, from grotta. Compare English grotto.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. Grotesqueadjective

    Distorted of figure; unnatural; wildly formed.

    Etymology: grotesque, French; grottesco, Italian.

    The champaign head
    Of a steep wilderness, whose hairy sides
    With thicket overgrown, grotesque and wild,
    Access deny’d. John Milton, Paradise Lost, b. iv.

    There is yet a lower sort of poetry and painting, which is out of nature; for a farce is that in poetry which grotesque is in a picture: the persons and actions of a farce are all unnatural, and the manners false, that is, inconsisting with the characters of mankind: grotesque painting is the just resemblance of this. John Dryden, Dufresnoy.

    An hideous figure of their foes they drew,
    Nor lines, nor looks, nor shades, nor colours true,
    And this grotesque design expos’d to publick view. Dryden.

    Palladian walls, Venetian doors,
    Grotesco roofs, and stucco floors. Alexander Pope, Sat. of Horace.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Grotesquenoun

    a whimsical figure, or scene, such as is found in old crypts and grottoes

  2. Grotesquenoun

    artificial grotto-work

  3. Etymology: [F., fr. It. grottesco, fr. grotta grotto. See Grotto.]


  1. Grotesque

    The word grotesque comes from the same Latin root as "grotto", which originated from Greek krypte "hidden place", 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. Spreading from Italian to the other European languages, the term was long used largely interchangeably with arabesque and moresque for types of decorative patterns using curving foliage elements. Since at least the 18th century, 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.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Grotesque

    grō-tesk′, adj. extravagantly formed: ludicrous.—n. (art) extravagant ornament, containing animals, plants, &c. not really existing.—adv. Grotesque′ly.—ns. Grotesque′ness; Grotesqu′ery. [Fr. grotesque—It. grotescagrotta, a grotto.]

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  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of grotesque in Chaldean Numerology is: 9

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of grotesque in Pythagorean Numerology is: 1

Examples of grotesque in a Sentence

  1. John White:

    You see a pretty grotesque example of misspending of taxpayer dollars.

  2. Rafi Eitan:

    Rafi Eitan told Fox News Leland Vittert. Eventually, the man admitted he was Adolf Eichmann. With more derring-do, Rafi Eitan and his fellow commandoes spirited Eichmann out of Argentina and brought him back to Israel where he was tried, convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. ANCIENT CLAY JAR FRAGMENT DEPICTING GROTESQUE DEITY DISCOVERED IN JERUSALEMS CITY OF DAVID At a reunion for those involved in Eichmanns capture and trial some years ago, Rafi Eitan recalled Eichmanns capturewith a twinkle in Rafi Eitan eye. CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP I was 51 years younger( then), but I am able and ready to do the same thing again.

  3. Bernie Sanders:

    What Bernie Sanders need to do to deal with this grotesque level of wealth and income inequality is make sure that those people who are working -- you know what, Mr. Michael Bloomberg, it wasn't you who made all that money, maybe your workers played some role in that as well.

  4. Zalmay Khalilzad:

    The attack on Amrullah Saleh's political party offices was grotesque and a clear act of terrorism.

  5. André Breton:

    To speak of God, to think of God, is in every respect to show what one is made of. I have always wagered against God and I regard the little that I have won in this world as simply the outcome of this bet. However paltry may have been the stake (my life) I am conscious of having won to the full. Everything that is doddering, squint-eyed, vile, polluted and grotesque is summoned up for me in that one word: God!

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"grotesque." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 2 Jun 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/grotesque>.

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    something that seduces or has the quality to seduce
    • A. gauge
    • B. ransom
    • C. aspiration
    • D. temptation

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