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90s Slang You Should Know


[kahr-nuh-vuh l] /ˈkɑr nə vəl/
a traveling amusement show, having sideshows, rides, etc.
any merrymaking, revelry, or festival, as a program of sports or entertainment:
a winter carnival.
the season immediately preceding Lent, often observed with merrymaking; Shrovetide.
Origin of carnival
1540-50; < Italian carnevale, Old Italian carnelevare taking meat away, equivalent to carne flesh (< Latin carnem, accusative of caro) + levare < Latin levāre to lift
Related forms
carnivalesque, carnivallike, adjective
precarnival, adjective
2. fair, celebration, fete, holiday. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for carnival
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • "It certainly doesn't compare with the carnival last year," said Mrs. Bowen.

    Indian Summer William D. Howells
  • The main incident of this carnival was the race between the class eights.

    Ruth Fielding At College Alice B. Emerson
  • I think, however—and Wrfel fully approves my intention—of giving my first concert during the carnival.

    Frederic Chopin, Vol II (of 2) Moritz Karasowski
  • You set the dollar meetin' on the first night o' the carnival!

    Friendship Village Zona Gale
  • It was not until this occasion of the carnival that any one at the Villa Camellia had recognized Lorna as a budding beauty.

British Dictionary definitions for carnival


  1. a festive occasion or period marked by merrymaking, processions, etc: esp in some Roman Catholic countries, the period just before Lent
  2. (as modifier): a carnival atmosphere
a travelling fair having merry-go-rounds, etc
a show or display arranged as an amusement
(Austral) a sports meeting
Word Origin
C16: from Italian carnevale, from Old Italian carnelevare a removing of meat (referring to the Lenten fast)
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 carnival

1540s, "time of merrymaking before Lent," from French carnaval, from Italian carnevale "Shrove Tuesday," from older Italian forms such as Milanese *carnelevale, Old Pisan carnelevare "to remove meat," literally "raising flesh," from Latin caro "flesh" (see carnage) + levare "lighten, raise, remove" (see lever (n.)). Folk etymology is from Medieval Latin carne vale " 'flesh, farewell!' " Meaning "a circus or fair" is attested by 1931 in North America.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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