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90s Slang You Should Know


[groh-tesk] /groʊˈtɛsk/
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
1555-65; < French < Italian grottesco (as noun, grottesca grotesque decoration such as was apparently found in excavated dwellings), derivative of grotta. See grotto, -esque
Related forms
grotesquely, adverb
grotesqueness, noun
ungrotesque, adjective
1. distorted, deformed, weird, antic, wild. See fantastic. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for grotesqueness
Historical Examples
  • The incongruity then of the tradition disappears; its grotesqueness remains.

    Tradition John Francis Arundell
  • This man, in spite of his grotesqueness, was quite in earnest, there was no doubting that.

    Romance Joseph Conrad and F.M. Hueffer
  • They dine, but they don't think of the dinner or the unpleasantness of the diners, and the grotesqueness of feeding in common.

    The Daughter of the Storage William Dean Howells
  • Beneath Paragot's grotesqueness ran an unprecedented severity.

    The Belovd Vagabond William J. Locke
  • Even eccentricity and grotesqueness lose all that is repulsive in them when they are simply and vigorously set forth.

    A Manual of Wood Carving Charles G. Leland
  • Could any caricature of mine exceed in grotesqueness your sketch of yourself?

  • On high, amid all this grotesqueness, sits the departed doge.

    The Innocents Abroad Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • In the grotesqueness and wildness of this theory we detect a true idea.

    Tradition John Francis Arundell
  • The whole scene is eminently characteristic of the grotesqueness 431of Chinese taste.

  • Novelty or grotesqueness is their only aim, and they hit the bulls-eye every time.

    Pastoral Days William Hamilton Gibson
British Dictionary definitions for grotesqueness


strangely or fantastically distorted; bizarre: a grotesque reflection in the mirror
of or characteristic of the grotesque in art
absurdly incongruous; in a ludicrous context: a 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
Derived Forms
grotesquely, adverb
grotesqueness, noun
Word Origin
C16: from French, from Old Italian (pittura) grottesca cave painting, from grottesco of a cave, from grotta cave; see grotto
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 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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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