Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Communication by means of gesture and facial expression: Some tourists make themselves understood abroad by pantomime.
  • n. The telling of a story without words, by means of bodily movements, gestures, and facial expressions.
  • n. A play, dance, or other theatrical performance characterized by such wordless storytelling.
  • n. An ancient Roman theatrical performance in which one actor played all the parts by means of gesture and movement, accompanied by a narrative chorus.
  • n. A player in such a performance.
  • n. A traditional British Christmas entertainment for children, usually based on nursery tales and featuring stock characters in costume who sing, dance, and perform skits.
  • transitive v. To represent or express by pantomime: pantomine a story on the stage; pantomimed "baby” by cradling an imaginary infant.
  • intransitive v. To express oneself in pantomime.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To gesture without speaking.
  • v. To entertain others by silent gestures or actions.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Representing only in mute actions; pantomimic.
  • n. A universal mimic; an actor who assumes many parts; also, any actor.
  • n. One who acts his part by gesticulation or dumb show only, without speaking; a pantomimist; a mime.
  • n. A dramatic representation by actors who use only dumb show; a depiction of an event, narrative, or situation using only gestures and bodily movements, without speaking; hence, dumb show, generally.
  • n. A dramatic and spectacular entertainment of which dumb acting as well as burlesque dialogue, music, and dancing by Clown, Harlequin, etc., are features.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. One who expresses his meaning by action without words; a player who employs only action—mimicry, gestures, movements, and posturing—in presenting his part.
  • n. under the Roman empire, a kind of spectacular play resembling the modern “ballet of action,” in which the functions of the actor were confined to gesticulation and dancing, the accompanying text being sung by a chorus; in modern times, any play to plot of which is expressed by mute gestures, with little or no dialogue; hence, expression of anything by gesture alone: as, he made know his wants in pantomime.
  • n. A popular theatrical entertainment of which many are produced in Great Britain about the Christmas season, usually consisting of two parts, the first or burlesque being founded on some popular fable, the effects being heightened by gorgeous scenery and catching music, and the second, or harlequinade, consisting almost wholly of the tricks of the clown and pantaloon and the dancing of harlequin and columbine.
  • Representing only in mute action.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. act out without words but with gestures and bodily movements only
  • n. a performance using gestures and body movements without words

Etymologies

Latin pantomīmus, a pantomimic actor, from Greek pantomīmos : panto-, all (from pās, pant-; see pan-) + mīmos, mime.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Circa 17th century, from Latin pantomīmus, from Ancient Greek παντόμιμος (pantomimos), from πᾶς (pas, "each, all") + μιμέομαι (mimeomai, "I mimic"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • On my word, what you call the pantomime of beggars is only the whole huge bustle of the earth ....

    Diderot and the Encyclopædists Volume II.

  • Mirabeau himself was indignant with what he called a pantomime; for he said that Ministers had no right to screen their own responsibility behind the inviolate throne.

    Lectures on the French Revolution

  • Their pantomime is ruthless and restive, always craving more but instantly jaded.

    Herta Müller - Nobel Lecture

  • A scholarly edition of the Obi pantomime is forthcoming from Romantic Circles, edited by Jeffrey N. Cox.

    About this Volume

  • While on the same page, he looked up the definition of pantomime.

    Hearts

  • "My folks!" he explained to her in pantomime, the suspicion of a complacent twinkle in his eye.

    The Mystery at Number Six

  • They tried also to comfort her by saying in pantomime that some day her godmother might send them to bear her home again, and lift the enchantment that bound her.

    The Golden Apple Tree

  • A second experiment, and a much more subtle and difficult one, is to take the same group of children on another occasion, telling them a story in pantomime form, giving them first the briefest outline of the story.

    The Art of the Story-Teller

  • He called to them to come back, and one boy lagged behind reluctantly, his meager little frame portraying in pantomime the struggle between fear and reason within him.

    Pictures - Stray Memories of Life in the Underworld

  • He called to them to come back, and one boy lagged behind reluctantly, his meagre little frame portraying in pantomime the struggle within him between fear and reason.

    Pictures

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Comments

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  • Also see Pantomime.

    August 8, 2011

  • Pantomime in the sense of Cinderella, Aladdin, etc. is a foreign concept to U.S. Americans. At least I never heard of it in that sense until I started watching the BBC.

    December 9, 2007

  • Exactly that. Oh well, I learnt something today.

    December 9, 2007

  • Hm, that doesn't look that weird to me, from where I sit in New Jersey, USA. Are you thinking of this meaning?

    December 9, 2007

  • WeirdNET: 'a performance using gestures and body movements without words'.

    Oh no it isn't! (Though a mime is.)

    Edit: actually, Dictionary.com uses a similar primary definition. Is this a 'rest of the world' thing?

    December 8, 2007