[ ber-lesk ]
See synonyms for: burlesqueburlesquedburlesquing on Thesaurus.com

  1. an artistic composition, especially literary or dramatic, that, for the sake of laughter, vulgarizes lofty material or treats ordinary material with mock dignity.

  2. any ludicrous parody or grotesque caricature.

  1. Also bur·lesk . a humorous and provocative stage show featuring slapstick humor, comic skits, bawdy songs, striptease acts, and a scantily clad female chorus.

  1. involving ludicrous or mocking treatment of a solemn subject.

  2. of, relating to, or like stage-show burlesque.

verb (used with object),bur·lesqued, bur·lesquing.
  1. to make ridiculous by mocking representation.

verb (used without object),bur·lesqued, bur·lesquing.
  1. to use caricature.

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.

Other words for burlesque

Other words from burlesque

  • bur·lesque·ly, adverb
  • bur·lesqu·er, noun
  • pre·bur·lesque, adjective
  • un·bur·lesqued, adjective

Words that may be confused with burlesque

Words Nearby burlesque

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use burlesque in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for burlesque


/ (bɜːˈlɛsk) /

  1. an artistic work, esp literary or dramatic, satirizing a subject by caricaturing it

  2. a ludicrous imitation or caricature

  1. a play of the 17th–19th centuries that parodied some contemporary dramatic fashion or event

  2. 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 elements: Slang name: burleycue

  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of a burlesque

verb-lesques, -lesquing or -lesqued
  1. to represent or imitate (a person or thing) in a ludicrous way; caricature

Origin of burlesque

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

Derived forms of burlesque

  • burlesquer, 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