bizarre

[ bih-zahr ]
See synonyms for: bizarrebizarrelybizarreness on Thesaurus.com

adjective
  1. markedly unusual in appearance, style, or general character and often involving incongruous or unexpected elements; outrageously or whimsically strange; odd: bizarre clothing; bizarre behavior.

Origin of bizarre

1
First recorded in 1640–50; from French: “strange, odd,” from Italian bizzarro “quick to anger, choleric,” then “capricious,” then “strange, weird”; further origin disputed

synonym study For bizarre

Bizarre, fantastic, grotesque, weird share a sense of deviation from what is normal or expected. Bizarre means markedly unusual or extraordinarily strange, sometimes whimsically so: bizarre costumes for Mardi Gras; bizarre behavior. Fantastic suggests a wild lack of restraint, a fancifulness so extreme as to lose touch with reality: a fantastic scheme for a series of space cities. In informal use, fantastic often means simply “exceptionally good”: a fantastic meal. Grotesque implies shocking distortion or incongruity, sometimes ludicrous, more often pitiful or tragic: a grotesque mixture of human and animal features; grotesque contrast between the forced smile and sad eyes: a gnarled tree suggesting the figure of a grotesque human being. Weird refers to that which is mysterious and apparently outside natural law, hence supernatural or uncanny: the weird adventures of a group lost in the jungle; a weird and ghostly apparition. Informally, weird means “very strange”: weird and wacky costumes; weird sense of humor.

word story For bizarre

Strange, but true: bizarre is a word with a contested and murky background.
For a long time, it was conjectured that bizarre is of Basque origin, coming from the word bizarra, meaning “beard.” This same word supposedly passed into Spanish and Portuguese as bizarro, with the meaning “handsome” or “brave” (one imagines in the belief that a man with a beard was endowed with those qualities). From there it was thought to have been adopted by the French, who liked the word but apparently did not attribute the same heroic qualities to the bearded man. In French, bizarre means “odd.”
Recently, a more likely etymology has gained ground—rather than from Spanish, the French word is thought to have come from bizzarro, an Italian word meaning “angry, choleric,” and which originally meant “brave, soldier-like.” Now, this still means that we have to get from a word meaning “angry” to one meaning “odd,” but it is, perhaps, a less bizarre journey.

Other words for bizarre

Other words from bizarre

  • bi·zarre·ly, adverb
  • bi·zarre·ness, noun

Words that may be confused with bizarre

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How to use bizarre in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for bizarre

bizarre

/ (bɪˈzɑː) /


adjective
  1. odd or unusual, esp in an interesting or amusing way

Origin of bizarre

1
C17: from French: from Italian bizzarro capricious, of uncertain origin

Derived forms of bizarre

  • bizarrely, adverb
  • bizarreness, noun

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