- odd or unnatural in shape, appearance, or character; fantastically ugly or absurd; bizarre.
- fantastic in the shaping and combination of forms, as in decorative work combining incongruous human and animal figures with scrolls, foliage, etc.
- any grotesque object, design, person, or thing.
Origin of grotesque
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for grotesqueness
This man, in spite of his grotesqueness, was quite in earnest, there was no doubting that.Romance
Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer
Even in that exciting moment Terry saw the grotesqueness of the situation.The Hunters of the Ozark
Edward S. Ellis
Perhaps the grotesqueness of that former scene was in his mind.Robert Elsmere
Mrs. Humphry Ward
And the grotesqueness of an individual has essentially the same nature.The Sense of Beauty
Beneath Paragot's grotesqueness ran an unprecedented severity.The Belovd Vagabond
William J. Locke
- strangely or fantastically distorted; bizarrea grotesque reflection in the mirror
- of or characteristic of the grotesque in art
- absurdly incongruous; in a ludicrous contexta grotesque turn of phrase
- a 16th-century decorative style in which parts of human, animal, and plant forms are distorted and mixed
- a decorative device, as in painting or sculpture, in this style
- printing the family of 19th-century sans serif display types
- any grotesque person or thing
Word Origin and History for grotesqueness
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.