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pageant

[paj-uh nt]
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noun
  1. an elaborate public spectacle illustrative of the history of a place, institution, or the like, often given in dramatic form or as a procession of colorful floats.
  2. a costumed procession, masque, allegorical tableau, or the like forming part of public or social festivities.
  3. a show or exhibition, especially one consisting of a succession of participants or events: a beauty pageant.
  4. something comparable to a procession in colorful variety, splendor, or grandeur: the pageant of Renaissance history.
  5. a pretentious display or show that conceals a lack of real importance or meaning.
  6. (in medieval times) a platform or stage, usually moving on wheels, on which scenes from mystery plays were presented.
  7. display or pageantry.
  8. Obsolete. a stage bearing any kind of spectacle.
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Origin of pageant

1350–1400; Middle English pagyn, pagaunt, pagand < Anglo-Latin pāgina a stage for plays, scene, platform, perhaps special use of Latin pāgina page1
Related formspag·eant·eer, nounpa·gean·tic [puh-jan-tik] /pəˈdʒæn tɪk/, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pageant

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • As for to-day, the magnificence of the pageant beggars description.

    Ireland as It Is

    Robert John Buckley (AKA R.J.B.)

  • His own inner life was as vivid a pageant to him as the history of the Church.

    Browning's England

    Helen Archibald Clarke

  • And this real—not a pageant—not as that thing you made of me before?

    Roland Cashel

    Charles James Lever

  • Let us watch the pageant that crosses the bridge that Charles built.

    From a Terrace in Prague

    Lieut.-Col. B. Granville Baker

  • Thursday, the twenty-first of January, 1535, was chosen for the pageant.


British Dictionary definitions for pageant

pageant

noun
  1. an elaborate colourful parade or display portraying scenes from history, esp one involving rich costume
  2. any magnificent or showy display, procession, etc
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Word Origin

C14: from Medieval Latin pāgina scene of a play, from Latin: page 1
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 pageant

n.

late 14c., "play in a cycle of mystery plays," from Medieval Latin pagina, of uncertain origin, perhaps from Latin pagina "page of a book" (see page (n.1)) on notion of "manuscript" of a play.

But an early sense in Middle English also was "stage or scene of a play" (late 14c.) and Klein says a sense of Latin pagina was "movable scaffold" (probably from the etymological sense of "stake"). With excrescent -t as in ancient (adj.). Generalized sense of "showy parade, spectacle" is first attested 1805, though this notion is found in pageantry (1650s).

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper