[ kahr-nuh-vuhl ]
/ ˈkɑr nə vəl /


a traveling amusement show, having sideshows, rides, etc.
any merrymaking, revelry, or festival, as a program of sports or entertainment: a winter carnival.
the season immediately preceding Lent, often observed with merrymaking; Shrovetide.

Nearby words

  1. carnification,
  2. carnify,
  3. carniola,
  4. carnitas,
  5. carnitine,
  6. carnival glass,
  7. carnivalesque,
  8. carnivora,
  9. carnivore,
  10. carnivorous

Origin of carnival

1540–50; < Italian carnevale, Old Italian carnelevare taking meat away, equivalent to carne flesh (< Latin carnem, accusative of caro) + levare < Latin levāre to lift

Related formscar·ni·val·esque, car·ni·val·like, adjectivepre·car·ni·val, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for carnivalesque

  • Her first feature, Orphans , received a Jury Prize at the 2007 SXSW Film Festival and was released on DVD by Carnivalesque Films.

    Thank God My Moms Are Lesbians|Ry Russo-Young|June 21, 2010|DAILY BEAST
  • The Florentines at any rate spend no more money nor faith on the carnivalesque.

    Italian Hours|Henry James

British Dictionary definitions for carnivalesque


/ (ˌkɑːnɪvəˈlɛsk) /


characteristic of, suitable for, or like a carnival


/ (ˈkɑːnɪvəl) /


  1. a festive occasion or period marked by merrymaking, processions, etc: esp in some Roman Catholic countries, the period just before Lent
  2. (as modifier)a carnival atmosphere
a travelling fair having merry-go-rounds, etc
a show or display arranged as an amusement
Australian a sports meeting

Word Origin for carnival

C16: from Italian carnevale, from Old Italian carnelevare a removing of meat (referring to the Lenten fast)

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 carnivalesque



1540s, "time of merrymaking before Lent," from French carnaval, from Italian carnevale "Shrove Tuesday," from older Italian forms such as Milanese *carnelevale, Old Pisan carnelevare "to remove meat," literally "raising flesh," from Latin caro "flesh" (see carnage) + levare "lighten, raise, remove" (see lever (n.)). Folk etymology is from Medieval Latin carne vale " 'flesh, farewell!' " Meaning "a circus or fair" is attested by 1931 in North America.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper