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[paj-uh nt] /ˈpædʒ ənt/
an elaborate public spectacle illustrative of the history of a place, institution, or the like, often given in dramatic form or as a procession of colorful floats.
a costumed procession, masque, allegorical tableau, or the like forming part of public or social festivities.
a show or exhibition, especially one consisting of a succession of participants or events:
a beauty pageant.
something comparable to a procession in colorful variety, splendor, or grandeur:
the pageant of Renaissance history.
a pretentious display or show that conceals a lack of real importance or meaning.
(in medieval times) a platform or stage, usually moving on wheels, on which scenes from mystery plays were presented.
display or pageantry.
Obsolete. a stage bearing any kind of spectacle.
Origin of pageant
1350-1400; Middle English pagyn, pagaunt, pagand < Anglo-Latin pāgina a stage for plays, scene, platform, perhaps special use of Latin pāgina page1
Related forms
pageanteer, noun
[puh-jan-tik] /pəˈdʒæn tɪk/ (Show IPA),
adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for pageant
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • As for to-day, the magnificence of the pageant beggars description.

    Ireland as It Is Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)
  • His own inner life was as vivid a pageant to him as the history of the Church.

    Browning's England Helen Archibald Clarke
  • And this real—not a pageant—not as that thing you made of me before?

    Roland Cashel Charles James Lever
  • Let us watch the pageant that crosses the bridge that Charles built.

    From a Terrace in Prague Lieut.-Col. B. Granville Baker
  • Thursday, the twenty-first of January, 1535, was chosen for the pageant.

British Dictionary definitions for pageant


an elaborate colourful parade or display portraying scenes from history, esp one involving rich costume
any magnificent or showy display, procession, etc
Word Origin
C14: from Medieval Latin pāgina scene of a play, from Latin: page1
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 pageant

late 14c., "play in a cycle of mystery plays," from Medieval Latin pagina, of uncertain origin, perhaps from Latin pagina "page of a book" (see page (n.1)) on notion of "manuscript" of a play.

But an early sense in Middle English also was "stage or scene of a play" (late 14c.) and Klein says a sense of Latin pagina was "movable scaffold" (probably from the etymological sense of "stake"). With excrescent -t as in ancient (adj.). Generalized sense of "showy parade, spectacle" is first attested 1805, though this notion is found in pageantry (1650s).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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