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“Compliment” and “complement” had a shared meaning a long time ago, but today they are no longer interchangeable.

Origin of burlesque

1650–60; < French < Italian burlesco, equivalent to burl(a) jest (perhaps < Spanish; cf. burladero) + -esco -esque

synonym study for burlesque

1. Burlesque, caricature, parody, travesty refer to the literary or dramatic forms that imitate serious works or subjects to achieve a humorous or satiric purpose. The characteristic device of burlesque is mockery of both high and low through association with their opposites: a burlesque of high and low life. Caricature, usually associated with visual arts or with visual effects in literary works, implies exaggeration of characteristic details: The caricature emphasized his nose. Parody achieves its humor through application of the manner or technique, usually of a well-known writer, to unaccustomed subjects: a parody by Swift. Travesty implies a grotesque form of burlesque: characters so changed as to produce a travesty.


bur·lesque·ly, adverbbur·lesqu·er, nounpre·bur·lesque, adjectiveun·bur·lesqued, adjective


burlesque caricature cartoon parody satire (see synonym study at the current entry)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

Example sentences from the Web for burlesque

British Dictionary definitions for burlesque

/ (bɜːˈlɛsk) /


an artistic work, esp literary or dramatic, satirizing a subject by caricaturing it
a ludicrous imitation or caricature
a play of the 17th–19th centuries that parodied some contemporary dramatic fashion or event
Also: burlesk US and Canadian theatre a bawdy comedy show of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: the striptease eventually became one of its chief elementsSlang name: burleycue


of, relating to, or characteristic of a burlesque

verb -lesques, -lesquing or -lesqued

to represent or imitate (a person or thing) in a ludicrous way; caricature

Derived forms of burlesque

burlesquer, noun

Word Origin for burlesque

C17: from French, from Italian burlesco, from burla a jest, piece of nonsense
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