from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A ballet position executed while standing on one straight leg with the arm extended forward and the other arm and leg extended backward.
  • noun A complex, ornate design of intertwined floral, foliate, and geometric figures.
  • noun Music An ornate, whimsical composition especially for piano.
  • noun An intricate or elaborate pattern or design.
  • adjective In the fashion of or formed as an arabesque.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • Arabian or resembling the Arabian in style; specifically, in art, relating to or exhibiting the variety of ornament known as arabesque. See II.
  • noun A kind of ornament of a capricious and fanciful character, consisting of lines, geometrical figures, fruits, flowers, foliage, etc., variously combined and grouped, and painted, inlaid, or wrought in low relief: used especially for the decoration of walls and ceilings, but also for the decoration of objects of any nature.
  • noun In bookbinding, a term used in England for impressed ornamental work on the side of the binding, produced by the pressure of hot plates or rollers upon which the pattern is engraved.
  • noun Also spelled arabesk.
  • To enrich with ornament in arabesque.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A style of ornamentation either painted, inlaid, or carved in low relief. It consists of a pattern in which plants, fruits, foliage, etc., as well as figures of men and animals, real or imaginary, are fantastically interlaced or put together.
  • adjective obsolete Arabian.
  • adjective Relating to, or exhibiting, the style of ornament called arabesque.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun An elaborate design of intertwined floral figures or complex geometrical patterns. This ornamental design is mainly used in Islamic Art and architecture.
  • noun music An ornate composition, especially for the piano.
  • noun ballet A dance position in which the dancer stands on one leg, with the other raised backwards, and the arms outstretched.

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

  • noun position in which the dancer has one leg raised behind and arms outstretched in a conventional pose
  • noun an ornament that interlaces simulated foliage in an intricate design


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

[French, from Italian arabesco, in Arabian fashion, from Arabo, an Arab, from Latin Arabus, from Arabs; see Arab.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

French arabesque, from Italian arabesco, from arabo ("Arab").


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  • There's a beautiful sequence where Bond lifts her repeatedly in arabesque, each time on the in-breath, so that she gazes for a rapturous moment at some far horizon before returning to the formal intricacies of the duet.

    Birmingham Royal Ballet: Pointes of View Luke Jennings 2010

  • 144 I understand the curiously carved windows cut in arabesque-work of marble.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night 2006

  • He invented that style of decoration which we now call arabesque or grotesque.

    Museum of Antiquity A Description of Ancient Life

  • The merit of the picture is in the arabesque, which is charming and original.

    Modern Painting 1892

  • So meeting Emily and having conversations about what she thought was important in dance and what she saw in dance kind of trained my eye as well … I want to tell a story Emily told me-we saw quite a bit of dance in London and talked a lot about dance-Emily explained there's this move called the arabesque, a ballet position, and it originated from this idea that seems very theatrical and very physical-theater, if I do say so myself, of trying to point to the moon -

    Walker Blogs Combined Feed Jesse Leaneagh 2009

  • So I started to play trumpet in a different way, drawing lines in space, musical lines, kind of arabesque kind of musical calligraphy.

    Trumpeter Jon Hassell's 'Fourth World' Music 2009

  • Amidst the "arabesque" of richly drawn characters, Suskind reveals a few bombshell discoveries regarding the Bush Administration's irresponsibility and outright lies.

    Dan Brown: George W. Bush Blew the Biggest British Terror Investigation Ever to Score Pre-Midterm Election Political Points... McCain '08! 2008

  • _grotesque_, or _promiscuously interspersed_; and the description here given leaves out the most beautiful kind of arabesque, namely, the inlaid work of geometrical figures in colored marbles, in which the

    The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 05, No. 31, May, 1860 Various

  • But, little by little one herb and flower after the other becomes individualized -- they are artists living themselves out into hues and lines and parts of a tableau; the vine draws itself in an arabesque which is perfect _because_ self-forming; and the whole harmonize with the sway of sunlight and shadow, with rustling breeze and hurrying ant on the footpath, and chirping birds, so exquisitely that you may feel, as you never have in studying human art or in poetry, that tones, colors, curves, organisms

    The Continental Monthly , Vol. 2 No. 5, November 1862 Devoted to Literature and National Policy Various

  • "arabesque" and other formal designs gave employment to the carvers, in making an infinite repetition of fiddles, festoons, and ribbons, in the execution of which they became so proficient, that their work is more often admired for its exquisite finish than for any intrinsic interest in the subject or design.

    Wood-Carving Design and Workmanship George Jack 1894


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  • This is a conventional pose? And what does it have to do with Arabs?

    January 19, 2008

  • Yes. This is how every bad ballet knick knack depicts ballerinas. They often get it just slightly wrong, which drives me CRAZY.

    January 19, 2008

  • It's also the name of a pretty screensaver bundled with Mac OS X Leopard.

    January 21, 2008

  • Are you a ballet dancer, jennarenn?

    I have to admit, I'm not much of a dancer (though I do enjoy on occasion rhythmically flinging my limbs about) and don't really appreciate it enough as an art form, but this word rocks.

    February 26, 2008

  • I'm not sure of the reason for the term's use in ballet. I was going to research and write an article on the variations once; I may still do so.

    February 26, 2008

  • What they say here, is not the propper meaning of the french terms! Because the deffinition they give you there could be the same for attiued

    Arabesque means:

    Postion on one leg in forth open.

    And Attiued it alsoed asked about. Attiued means:

    Postion on one leg in forth cross.

    :) if you neeed any help with meanings i know them all!! Just e-mail me



    August 16, 2009

  • Attiued?

    August 16, 2009

  • Railroad telegraphers' shorthand notation for "Everything can be satisfactorily arranged". --US Railway Association, Standard Cipher Code, 1906.

    January 19, 2013