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[vawd-vil, vohd-, vaw-duh-] /ˈvɔd vɪl, ˈvoʊd-, ˈvɔ də-/
theatrical entertainment consisting of a number of individual performances, acts, or mixed numbers, as by comedians, singers, dancers, acrobats, and magicians.
Compare variety (def 9).
a theatrical piece of light or amusing character, interspersed with songs and dances.
a satirical cabaret song.
Origin of vaudeville
1730-40; < French, shortened alteration of Middle French chanson du vau de Vire song of the vale1 of Vire, a valley of Calvados, France, noted for satirical folksongs Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for vaudeville
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • His brother was director of the vaudeville in partnership with Raymond Deslandes.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • The vaudeville, when it was opened, was devoted to all that was light and cheerful.

  • Tristan's vaudeville scheme was not as easily realized as said.

    Disowned Victor Endersby
  • But on thinking it over, he decided like the vaudeville man.

    Disowned Victor Endersby
  • I have seen the Arabs at the vaudeville; they have magnificent beards.'

    Tales Of The Trains Charles James Lever
  • At twenty-one he left me and married a woman from the vaudeville stage.

    The Flying Mercury Eleanor M. Ingram
British Dictionary definitions for vaudeville


/ˈvəʊdəvɪl; ˈvɔː-/
(mainly US & Canadian) variety entertainment consisting of short acts such as acrobatic turns, song-and-dance routines, animal acts, etc, popular esp in the early 20th century Brit name music hall
a light or comic theatrical piece interspersed with songs and dances
Word Origin
C18: from French, from vaudevire satirical folk song, shortened from chanson du vau de Vire song of the valley of Vire, a district in Normandy where this type of song flourished
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 vaudeville

1739, "light, popular song," especially one sung on the stage, from French vaudeville, alteration (by influence of ville "town") of Middle French vaudevire, said to be from (chanson du) Vau de Vire "(song of the) valley of Vire," in the Calvados region of Normandy, first applied to the popular satirical songs of Olivier Basselin, a 15c. poet who lived in Vire.

The alternative explanation is that vaudevire derives from Middle French dialectal vauder "to go" + virer "to turn." The meaning "theatrical entertainment interspersed with songs" first recorded 1827.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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vaudeville in Culture
vaudeville [(vawd-vuhl, vaw-duh-vil)]

Light theatrical entertainment, popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, consisting of a succession of short acts. A vaudeville show usually included comedians, singers, dancers, jugglers, trained animals, magicians, and the like.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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