- gruesome and horrifying; ghastly; horrible.
- of, pertaining to, dealing with, or representing death, especially its grimmer or uglier aspect.
- of or suggestive of the allegorical dance of death.
Origin of macabre
Examples from the Web for macabre
You two seem to have similar artistic sensibilities, both very interested in the macabre.Tim Burton Talks ‘Big Eyes,’ His Taste For the Macabre, and the ‘Beetlejuice’ Sequel
December 17, 2014
And in the summer months, when shootings soar, the city can be a ghoulish playground for those interested in the macabre.Chicago’s Real-Life 'Nightcrawler'
November 14, 2014
Over the past few years, macabre signs of vampire burials have been unearthed across Europe and even in the United States.Bulgaria’s Vampire Graveyards
October 15, 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
In more ways than one, the tableaux have macabre backstories.Dead and Beautiful: The Art of Taxidermy
April 16, 2014
It was like a macabre march of struggling corpses towards a distant grave.A Set of Six
“Life,” he emphasized above the continuous, macabre rattle of a piano.Mountain Blood
For as I write doubts dance like macabre figures among my words.Fantazius Mallare
It is not sufficiently realised how much there was of the "macabre" about Victor Hugo.Suspended Judgments
John Cowper Powys
And if these meetings had their macabre side, I hope it was hidden at least from my guests.Sonia Between two Worlds
- gruesome; ghastly; grim
- resembling or associated with the danse macabre
Word Origin and History for macabre
early 15c., from Old French (danse) Macabré "(dance) of Death" (1376), probably a translation of Medieval Latin (Chorea) Machabæorum, literally "dance of the Maccabees" (leaders of the Jewish revolt against Syro-Hellenes; see Maccabees). The association with the dance of death seems to be via vivid descriptions of the martyrdom of the Maccabees in the Apocryphal books. The abstracted sense of "gruesome" is first attested 1842 in French, 1889 in English.
The typical form which the allegory takes is that of a series of pictures, sculptured or painted, in which Death appears, either as a dancing skeleton or as a shrunken corpse wrapped in grave-clothes to persons representing every age and condition of life, and leads them all in a dance to the grave. ["Encyclopaedia Britannica," 11th ed., 1911]