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[slap-stik] /ˈslæpˌstɪk/
broad comedy characterized by boisterous action, as the throwing of pies in actors' faces, mugging, and obvious farcical situations and jokes.
a stick or lath used by harlequins, clowns, etc., as in pantomime, for striking other performers, especially a combination of laths that make a loud, clapping noise without hurting the person struck.
using, or marked by the use of, broad farce and horseplay:
a slapstick motion picture.
Origin of slapstick
An Americanism dating back to 1895-1900; slap1 + stick1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for slapstick
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • It frequently happens that a comedian will get after a writer with a stuffed club or a slapstick.

    The Fiction Factory John Milton Edwards
  • Sloppy sentimentality and slapstick farce ought to bore us frightfully, especially if we have any sense of humor.

  • Her enthusiasm for the slapstick artist provoked him, but at the same time that gay laughter tickled his ears pleasantly.

    The Purple Heights Marie Conway Oemler
  • Don Marquis recognizes as well as any one the value of the slapstick as a mirth-provoking instrument.


    Christopher Morley
  • There was a moment when the slapstick comedy grazed red tragedy.

    The Fighting Edge William MacLeod Raine
British Dictionary definitions for slapstick


  1. comedy characterized by horseplay and physical action
  2. (as modifier): slapstick humour
a flexible pair of paddles bound together at one end, formerly used in pantomime to strike a blow to a person with a loud clapping sound but without injury
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 slapstick

also slap-stick, originally (1896) a device consisting of two sticks fastened together so as to slap loudly when a clown or actor hits somebody with it, or to make a sound-effect offstage; from slap and stick (n.). As an adjective by 1906. Meaning "farcical physical comedy, horseplay" (1916) is short for slapstick comedy or humor.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for slapstick



Featuring rowdy humor, both physical and conceptual; low comedy: The old burlesque loved slapstick routines (1906+ Show business)


: The Marx Brothers depended a lot on slapstick (1926+ Show business)

[fr the slapstick, two wooden slats joined at one end, which made a loud splatting noise when used as a comic weapon, the term found by 1907]

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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