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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for vaudeville
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A young fellow up in New Hampshire has written a vaudeville playlet and sent it on for my approval.

    Continuous Vaudeville Will M. Cressy
  • He had hung about the Unallied garage on evenings when he was too poor to go to vaudeville.

    The Trail of the Hawk Sinclair Lewis
  • But for all his vaudeville tactics he was by no means a second-rate scientist.

    This is Klon Calling Walt Sheldon
  • Her first public appearance on the stage had been in vaudeville.

    Charles Frohman: Manager and Man Isaac Frederick Marcosson and Daniel Frohman
  • I simply underwent a course of training in vaudeville, conditioning myself for a fight to a finish.

    Nat Goodwin's Book Nat C. Goodwin
  • “This scene is as good as a vaudeville, Mary,” laughed Uncle Ben.

    The Blue Birds' Winter Nest Lillian Elizabeth Roy
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 American Heritage® 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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