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

  • n. A literary or dramatic work that ridicules a subject either by presenting a solemn subject in an undignified style or an inconsequential subject in a dignified style. See Synonyms at caricature.
  • n. A ludicrous or mocking imitation; a travesty: The antics of the defense attorneys turned the trial into a burlesque of justice.
  • n. A variety show characterized by broad ribald comedy, dancing, and striptease.
  • transitive v. To imitate mockingly or humorously: "always bringing junk . . . home, as if he were burlesquing his role as provider” ( John Updike).
  • intransitive v. To use the methods or techniques of burlesque.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. parodical
  • n. A derisive art form that mocks by imitation; a parody
  • n. A variety adult entertainment show, usually including titillation such as striptease, most common from the 1880s to the 1930s.
  • v. To make a burlesque parody of

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Tending to excite laughter or contempt by extravagant images, or by a contrast between the subject and the manner of treating it, as when a trifling subject is treated with mock gravity; jocular; ironical.
  • n. Ludicrous representation; exaggerated parody; grotesque satire.
  • n. An ironical or satirical composition intended to excite laughter, or to ridicule anything.
  • n. A ludicrous imitation; a caricature; a travesty; a gross perversion.
  • intransitive v. To employ burlesque.
  • transitive v. To ridicule, or to make ludicrous by grotesque representation in action or in language.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Tending to excite laughter by a ludicrous contrast between the subject and the manner of treating it, as when a serious subject is treated ridiculously or a trifling one with solemnity.
  • n. A burlesque literary or dramatic composition; travesty; caricature.
  • n. A piece composed in burlesque style; a travesty; in modern use often specifically a theatrical piece, a kind of dramatic extravaganza, usually based upon a serious play or subject, with more or less music in it.
  • n. A ludicrous or debasing caricature of any kind; a gross perversion.
  • n. Synonyms Parody, Travesty, etc. See caricature.
  • To make ridiculous by mocking representation; caricature; travesty.
  • To use caricature.

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

  • adj. relating to or characteristic of a burlesque
  • n. a theatrical entertainment of broad and earthy humor; consists of comic skits and short turns (and sometimes striptease)
  • v. make a parody of
  • n. a composition that imitates or misrepresents somebody's style, usually in a humorous way


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

From French, comical, from Italian burlesco, from burla, joke, probably from Spanish, from Vulgar Latin *burrula, diminutive of Late Latin burrae, nonsense, from burra, wool.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

French burlesque, from Italian burlesco ("parodic").


  • The word burlesque comes from the Latin word burra meaning nonsense and the Italian word burla meaning mockery.

    Happy Halloween: I will embody burlesque!

  • It proved to be the lowest kind of music-ball down in the Loop district what they call burlesque nowadays-with sawdust on the floor, a great bar down one side of the hall doing a roaring trade, pit and gallery crowded with raucous toughs and their flash tarts, an atmosphere blue with smoke and a programme to match.

    Flashman and The Redskins

  • He would later leave to play piano or organ in burlesque houses.

    Five People Born on April 11 | myFiveBest

  • He worked in burlesque and vaudeville theaters and then on Broadway in such plays as The Night Circus (1958), One More River (1960), and Do Re Mi (1962).

    Five People Born at the End of April | myFiveBest

  • It had been an audacious notion, the idea that Wellesley would accept the hard-working little Jewish girl with the Cuban heels and the father in burlesque and the New York apartment (by then, there was a Latin Quarter in Times Square) that her mother had decorated in pale yellow and lavender brocade, “like a huge Easter egg.”

    The Uses of Enchantment

  • And what do you think of the way the meaning of the word burlesque seems to be changing as of late, into a meaning something like "referring to exotic dance"?

    Interview: Catherine D'Lish--My Birthday Present for Me!

  • Saturday, March 28, 2009 at 09: 24 AM your analysis of the stooges not being up to the length of a feature film is spot on lance. in burlesque or vaudeville they were what is called "transition acts." have you ever been to one of those megasize reviews in vegas where right after a big ass production number a magician, or a guy who plays accordian while riding a unicycle on a card table comes out for a few minutes? those folks aren't there to carry the show, or do anything but hold your attention while the stage crew changes the set and the girls change pasties.

    Knuckleheads and wiseguys

  • It starts with Coco and her sister being dropped off at an orphanage, then jumps ahead a number of years to when she’s a young adult trying to sing in burlesque clubs.

    Outlining : Bev Vincent

  • High-fashion model Daisy Lowe, 19, has been chosen to join burlesque maven Dita Von Teese in People For The Ethical Treatment of Animals’ (PETA) upcoming “Beauty Without Cruelty” campaign, in cooperation with Chanel.

    Dita Von Teese PETA AD

  • It’s perhaps telling that burlesque is enjoying a revival now, even as our culture’s free-for-all culture seems to push the boundaries of good taste and common sense on a daily basis.

    Pucker Up to Tangerine at Las Vegas’ Treasure Island


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  • It also have some darker conotations... judging by the bizarre atmosphere of some parties currently happening in London, that is.

    March 13, 2008