• synonyms


See more synonyms for carnival on Thesaurus.com
  1. a traveling amusement show, having sideshows, rides, etc.
  2. any merrymaking, revelry, or festival, as a program of sports or entertainment: a winter carnival.
  3. the season immediately preceding Lent, often observed with merrymaking; Shrovetide.
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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


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

joyous, peppy, hearty, jovial, chipper, gala, merry, upbeat, cheery, happy, lighthearted, joyful, convivial, jubilant, blithe, carnival, gay, gleeful, holiday, jocund

Examples from the Web for carnivalesque

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • The Florentines at any rate spend no more money nor faith on the carnivalesque.

    Italian Hours

    Henry James

  • Salamandering with an iron that has a gay, carnivalesque design can make a sort of harlequin Ramekin.

    The Complete Book of Cheese

    Robert Carlton Brown

British Dictionary definitions for carnivalesque


  1. characteristic of, suitable for, or like a carnival
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    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
  1. a travelling fair having merry-go-rounds, etc
  2. a show or display arranged as an amusement
  3. Australian a sports meeting
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Word Origin

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper