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

  • n. A dramatic work that is light and often humorous or satirical in tone and that usually contains a happy resolution of the thematic conflict.
  • n. The genre made up of such works.
  • n. A literary or cinematic work of a comic nature or that uses the themes or methods of comedy.
  • n. Popular entertainment composed of jokes, satire, or humorous performance.
  • n. The art of composing or performing comedy.
  • n. A humorous element of life or literature: the human comedy of political campaigns.
  • n. A humorous occurrence.
  • idiom comedy of errors A ludicrous event or sequence of events: The candidate's campaign turned out to be a political comedy of errors.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. archaic Greece. a choric song of celebration or revel
  • n. ancient Greece. a light, amusing play with a happy ending
  • n. medieval Europe. a narrative poem with an agreeable ending (e.g., The Divine Comedy)
  • n. A dramatic work that is light and humorous or satirical in tone
  • n. The genre of such works
  • n. entertainment composed of jokes, satire, or humorous performance
  • n. the art of composing comedy
  • n. a humorous event

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. A dramatic composition, or representation of a bright and amusing character, based upon the foibles of individuals, the manners of society, or the ludicrous events or accidents of life; a play in which mirth predominates and the termination of the plot is happy; -- opposed to tragedy.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. That branch of the drama which addresses itself primarily to the sense of the humorous or the ridiculous: opposed to tragedy, which appeals to the more serious and profound emotions. See drama and tragedy.
  • n. In a restricted sense, a form of the drama which is humorous without being broadly or grossly comical: distinguished from farce.
  • n. A dramatic composition written in the style of comedy; a comic play or drama.
  • n. Hence A humorous or comic incident or series of incidents in real life.
  • n. A narrative poem: applied to the Divina Commedia (‘Divine Comedy’) of Dante. See Dante and Divina Commedia in the Cyclopedia of Names.

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

  • n. a comic incident or series of incidents
  • n. light and humorous drama with a happy ending


Middle English comedie, from Medieval Latin cōmēdia, from Latin cōmoedia, from Greek kōmōidia, from kōmōidos, comic actor : kōmos, revel + aoidos, singer (from aeidein, to sing; see wed-2 in Indo-European roots).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
First attested in 1374. From Old French comedie, from Latin cōmoedia, from Ancient Greek κωμῳδία (kōmōidia), from κῶμος (kōmos, "revel, carousing") + either ᾠδή (ōidē, "song") or ἀοιδός (aoidos, "singer, bard"), both from ἀείδω (aeidō, "I sing"). (Wiktionary)



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  • Well, the telling of jokes is an art of its own, and it always rises from some emotional threat. The best jokes are dangerous, and dangerous because they are in some way truthful.

    Kurt Vonnegut, Interview,

    July 5, 2008