- odd or unnatural in shape, appearance, or character; fantastically ugly or absurd; bizarre.
- fantastic in the shaping and combination of forms, as in decorative work combining incongruous human and animal figures with scrolls, foliage, etc.
- any grotesque object, design, person, or thing.
Origin of grotesque
SynonymsSee more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for grotesque
Grotesque profiteering aside, life release ceremonies can devastate the eco-system.The Buddhist Business of Poaching Animals for Good Karma
December 28, 2014
Why is the sight—or mere thought—of other adults having sex thought of as grotesque, bad, or forbidden in the year 2014?Porn Stars Are People Too, Dammit: Lisa Ann’s Notre Dame Date and the Trolling of David Gregory
October 25, 2014
Except in cases with the highest body count, or the most grotesque cruelty, white victims were the only ones that mattered.The Myth of the Central Park Five
October 19, 2014
At least Jake Gyllenhaal shaved off his grotesque face scarf this year.Leo, the Beard Has to Go: When a Man’s Facial Hair Reaches Crisis Point
September 22, 2014
The runoff has turned into a macabre political sideshow filled with grotesque attacks and ugly accusations.Mississippi GOP Plays Games With Black Votes
June 24, 2014
The outrage on the Warden was not so grotesque, but the effect was the same.The Underdog
F. Hopkinson Smith
It has a pompous Latin name, but it is incurably Gothic and grotesque.Alarms and Discursions
G. K. Chesterton
But this grotesque sentiment did not pass current even in the smoking-room.In a Steamer Chair and Other Stories
Who and what were the persons of whom the preacher gave this grotesque account?A Writer's Recollections (In Two Volumes), Volume I
Mrs. Humphry Ward
And all waited on what the grotesque, bloated figure they watched might reveal.The Bluff of the Hawk
- strangely or fantastically distorted; bizarrea grotesque reflection in the mirror
- of or characteristic of the grotesque in art
- absurdly incongruous; in a ludicrous contexta grotesque turn of phrase
- a 16th-century decorative style in which parts of human, animal, and plant forms are distorted and mixed
- a decorative device, as in painting or sculpture, in this style
- printing the family of 19th-century sans serif display types
- any grotesque person or thing
Word Origin and History for grotesque
c.1600s, originally a noun (1560s), from Middle French crotesque (16c., Modern French grotesque), from Italian grottesco, literally "of a cave," from grotta (see grotto). The usual explanation is that the word first was used of paintings found on the walls of basements of Roman ruins (Italian pittura grottesca), which OED finds "intrinsically plausible." Originally "fanciful, fantastic," sense became pejorative after mid-18c. Related: Grotesquely; grotesqueness.