[vawd-vil, vohd-, vaw-duh-]


theatrical entertainment consisting of a number of individual performances, acts, or mixed numbers, as by comedians, singers, dancers, acrobats, and magicians.Compare variety(def 9).
a theatrical piece of light or amusing character, interspersed with songs and dances.
a satirical cabaret song.

Origin of vaudeville

1730–40; < French, shortened alteration of Middle French chanson du vau de Vire song of the vale1 of Vire, a valley of Calvados, France, noted for satirical folksongs Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for vaudeville

burlesque, theater, skit, show, revue

Examples from the Web for vaudeville

Contemporary Examples of vaudeville

Historical Examples of vaudeville

  • His brother was director of the Vaudeville in partnership with Raymond Deslandes.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • The Vaudeville, when it was opened, was devoted to all that was light and cheerful.

  • But on thinking it over, he decided like the vaudeville man.


    Victor Endersby

  • Tristan's vaudeville scheme was not as easily realized as said.


    Victor Endersby

  • I have seen the Arabs at the Vaudeville; they have magnificent beards.'

    Tales Of The Trains

    Charles James Lever

British Dictionary definitions for vaudeville



mainly US and Canadian variety entertainment consisting of short acts such as acrobatic turns, song-and-dance routines, animal acts, etc, popular esp in the early 20th centuryBrit name: music hall
a light or comic theatrical piece interspersed with songs and dances

Word Origin for vaudeville

C18: from French, from vaudevire satirical folk song, shortened from chanson du vau de Vire song of the valley of Vire, a district in Normandy where this type of song flourished
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 vaudeville

1739, "light, popular song," especially one sung on the stage, from French vaudeville, alteration (by influence of ville "town") of Middle French vaudevire, said to be from (chanson du) Vau de Vire "(song of the) valley of Vire," in the Calvados region of Normandy, first applied to the popular satirical songs of Olivier Basselin, a 15c. poet who lived in Vire.

The alternative explanation is that vaudevire derives from Middle French dialectal vauder "to go" + virer "to turn." The meaning "theatrical entertainment interspersed with songs" first recorded 1827.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

vaudeville in Culture


[(vawd-vuhl, vaw-duh-vil)]

Light theatrical entertainment, popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, consisting of a succession of short acts. A vaudeville show usually included comedians, singers, dancers, jugglers, trained animals, magicians, and the like.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.