[ ar-uh-besk ]
/ ˌær əˈbɛsk /


Fine Arts. a sinuous, spiraling, undulating, or serpentine line or linear motif.
a pose in ballet in which the dancer stands on one leg with one arm extended in front and the other leg and arm extended behind.
a short, fanciful musical piece, typically for piano.
any ornament or ornamental object, as a rug or mosaic, in which flowers, foliage, fruits, vases, animals, and figures are represented in a fancifully combined pattern.


decorated with or characterized by arabesques: arabesque design.

Nearby words

  1. arab-american,
  2. arab-israeli conflict,
  3. arab.,
  4. araban,
  5. arabel,
  6. arabia,
  7. arabia deserta,
  8. arabia felix,
  9. arabia petraea,
  10. arabian

Origin of arabesque

1605–15; < French < Italian arabesco ornament in Islamic style, literally, Arabian, equivalent to Arab(o) Arab + -esco -esque

Related formsar·a·besque·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for arabesque

British Dictionary definitions for arabesque


/ (ˌærəˈbɛsk) /


ballet a classical position in which the dancer has one leg raised behind and both arms stretched out in one of several conventional poses
music a piece or movement with a highly ornamented or decorated melody
  1. a type of curvilinear decoration in painting, metalwork, etc, with intricate intertwining leaf, flower, animal, or geometrical designs
  2. a design of flowing lines


designating, of, or decorated in this style

Word Origin for arabesque

C18: from French, from Italian arabesco in the Arabic style

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

Word Origin and History for arabesque



1610s, "Moorish or Arabic ornamental design," from French arabesque (16c.), from Italian arabesco, from Arabo "Arab," with reference to Moorish architecture. As a ballet pose, first attested 1830. Musical sense, in reference to an ornamented theme, is from 1864, originally the title given by Robert Schumann to one of his piano pieces.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper