Definition of cartoon in English:



  • 1A simple drawing showing the features of its subjects in a humorously exaggerated way, especially a satirical one in a newspaper or magazine.

    ‘the minister faced a welter of hostile headlines and mocking cartoons’
    • ‘I don't even pay attention to political cartoons in newspapers.’
    • ‘It's an addition to the Comics page, devoted not to an artist, or a strip, or a subject, but just to a year: the newspaper cartoons of 1907.’
    • ‘A cartoon in an Indonesian newspaper summed up what words and pictures struggled to convey.’
    • ‘Newspaper cartoons are popular and important for social critique.’
    • ‘The books - Europe since Versailles and Europe at War - date back to 1940 and 1941 and feature political cartoons by Sir David Low.’
    • ‘He also turned to satirical cartoons and illustrations for newspapers and magazines.’
    • ‘Did you look at other cartoons in the magazine for inspiration?’
    • ‘Encouraged by his comrades' response to his drawings, he eventually sent one of his cartoons to the Bystander magazine, and a legend was born.’
    • ‘Knight began sending his cartoons out to local newspapers and magazines, then to publications across the country.’
    • ‘Yet in today's multimedia world, satire has entered the mainstream via theatre, television, music, newspaper cartoons, radio, and the internet.’
    • ‘John Bull And Patriotism is the first in a series of six exhibitions featuring cartoons by James Gilray.’
    • ‘Disillusioned with the politics and antics of politicians, Vijayan ventured into dark corners of history to find subjects for his cartoons.’
    • ‘Each week we will feature one of her cartoons, which provide amusing insights into Southampton's rich past.’
    • ‘When one becomes the subject of cartoons, it is time to go.’
    • ‘The cartoon featured a confused looking gentleman looking at a billboard advertising a horror film.’
    • ‘He started trying to draw cartoons again, satirical sketches of popular figures (a talent which he'd had since a boy).’
    • ‘As a child Cullen drew cartoons for the local newspaper, but since then he's painted everything from criminals to the devil.’
    • ‘There were press attacks and vicious satirical cartoons featuring Queen Victoria throughout the middle of the 19th century.’
    • ‘Mauldin was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1945, and the United Features Syndicate distributed his cartoons to hundreds of newspapers.’
    • ‘While in Greece in 1997 I noticed a newspaper cartoon by Kosta Mitropoulou.’
    caricature, parody, lampoon, satire, travesty
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    1. 1.1A narrative sequence of humorous drawings in a comic, magazine, or newspaper, usually with captions.
      ‘a Peanuts cartoon by Charles Schulz’
      • ‘Pekar's endearingly pathetic life is given an new perspective when he translates his desultory day-today experiences into the basis for a cartoon strip.’
      • ‘The book was Raymond Briggs' tragi-comic cartoon strip When the Wind Blows, given to me as a Christmas present by my grandfather.’
      • ‘My current favorite cartoon strip is ‘Get Fuzzy’ and my all time favorite is ‘Calvin and Hobbes.’’
      • ‘Another specialist in ephemera of this kind and scenography was Baccio del Bianco, whose extraordinary caricatures, for which he was particularly celebrated, are an early form of the cartoon strip.’
      • ‘Since last night I have been working on doing a cartoon strip for the page, just a one-off thing about finding a job.’
      • ‘Using brightly coloured cards as a tool kit about gender imbalance and a cartoon strip - with a moral of course - the idea is to make it simple so that ordinary people can partner in the change.’
      • ‘The Telegraph reports today that the cartoon strip Alex is being turned into a 90 minute West End Show.’
      • ‘They will appear in a cartoon strip talking through speech bubbles.’
      • ‘You may wonder how a cartoon strip about three potheads could survive the 1960s, let alone the 80s.’
      • ‘Bob's other credits include appearing with Michael Parkinson in Australia, and having his own cartoon strip published in the Daily Express.’
      • ‘I wrote a cartoon strip once that ran for a few years.’
      • ‘The scope for interesting and humorous plots for each cartoon strip seemed (at the time) to be endless.’
      • ‘The commentator compared it to the cartoon strip of a couple who explain to a marriage counsellor that they don't talk any more as ‘we figured out that's when we have all our fights.’’
      • ‘With his square jaw and sunken eyes, he looked like something out a cartoon strip, a mayor of Gotham who thought he was Superman.’
      • ‘A one-page cartoon strip which Lennon drew for the Daily Howl, a comic he drew while at school, was expected to fetch £13 - £20,000 but went for £53,400.’
      • ‘In the late 1980s he met the Canadian publisher of a little magazine Casual Casual, and the first Jim Bones cartoon strip appeared in print.’
      • ‘I'm hoping that my cartoon strip will inspire readers both young and not-so-young to find out more about the history on their doorstep.’
      • ‘Popeye made his first appearance as a supporting character in a cartoon strip in Hearst's New York newspapers.’
      • ‘The second ‘If you can't be right, be wrong at the top of your voice’ is from a cartoon strip.’
      • ‘The Institute of Physics in London have decided to celebrate his birth 100 years ago with a cartoon strip.’
      comic strip, cartoon strip, comic, graphic novel
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    2. 1.2A simplified or exaggerated version or interpretation of something.
      [as modifier] ‘Dolores becomes a cartoon housewife, reading glossy magazines in a bathrobe’
      • ‘I know my opponent would like to run against a mythical, big spending, government candidate, a cartoon image from campaigns past.’
      • ‘My own dysfunctional family were out, so I had to replace them with a cartoon version.’
      • ‘I feel I've only met the cartoon version and it must be hard being the person, always misunderstood.’
      • ‘His first hurdle as chairman will be to erase the cartoon image of him that is seared into the minds of most of the population.’
      • ‘We're often reduced to cartoon versions of ourselves, but that's inevitable.’
      • ‘It's so busy attempting to draw comparisons to male stereotypes that it can hardly avoid making its female characters into cartoons as well.’
      • ‘He isn't really so much a provocateur as he is a sort of freelance imbecile, a flesh and blood cartoon.’
      • ‘We now know it will sacrifice talent and demolish the dignity of a loyal employee for a cartoon version of moral purity.’
      • ‘He can be viewed as the representative of this cartoon version of the public.’
      • ‘The cartoon version of relativism he is describing does not pervade society, because it does not exist at all.’
      • ‘All in all, his relentless focus on the last several years produces a cartoon version of Lubavitcher history.’
      • ‘He is like a cartoon stereotype representing the worst side of the political culture.’
      • ‘Theirs is a cartoon version of the conflict.’
  • 2A film using animation techniques to photograph a sequence of drawings rather than real people or objects.

    ‘we watched Yogi Bear cartoons on TV’
    [as modifier] ‘cartoon characters’
    ‘a cartoon show’
    • ‘Plus marks go to the superbly clever animated opening credits, recalling the Pink Panther cartoons and giving a real flavour of the Sixties, in which the film is mostly set.’
    • ‘His initial background as a filmmaker was in cartoons and animation film, and it shows.’
    • ‘Uninhibited characterizations dominated the American animated cartoons of World War II.’
    • ‘With the exception of cartoons, film has simply never distinguished between the childish and the adult.’
    • ‘Way back when, theaters used to show cartoons, newsreels, and short films before you'd see the main attraction.’
    • ‘Twelve cartoon or animated short features make up this disc, so I'll give a short description of what to expect.’
    • ‘Watching the Disney cartoon again proves to be a far more appealing option.’
    • ‘Up until 1950s, the Walt Disney Company was known primarily for its animated movies and short cartoons.’
    • ‘He ranked among Hollywood's greatest film animators and his achievements in the world of film cartoons was often compared to those of Walt Disney, who created Mickey Mouse.’
    • ‘Of course, we've realised that the only movies we've been to see since Rebecca's birth have been cartoons or animated films of some sort.’
    • ‘It was fun to compare the still drawings to the finished cartoon, and it gives one a feel for how animators and writers rough-sketch their ideas.’
    • ‘The film plays like a live-action cartoon, with deliberately flat backdrops, oversized props, and campy, exaggerated action.’
    • ‘I would rather watch animated features made for adults than cartoons.’
    • ‘Many of us have grown up with Disney cartoons and animated films and for some, they were the only kind of entertainment allowed by parents.’
    • ‘From the golden age came many cartoons with characters that were based on comic strips.’
    • ‘Some of the reused footage from the old cartoons appears grainy or scratched, but one commentary track reveals that they were actually digitally treated to look older.’
    • ‘You would think nothing of it if the film were a cartoon - but seeing the same sequences performed by live actors?’
    • ‘The movie looks pretty cool, a mix of 20s and 30s Warner Brothers and Disney cartoons.’
    • ‘The series pairs films by the same director and features other material relative to the era of the films, such as newsreels and cartoons.’
    • ‘Side views are nullified as the cartoon insistently animates its characters from the front.’
    animated film, animated cartoon, animation
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  • 3A full-size drawing made by an artist as a preliminary design for a painting or other work of art.

    ‘the tapestries are based on a set of cartoons commissioned by Pope Leo XI’
    • ‘Fantagraphics have announced that, finally, they're releasing a compendium of drawings, paintings and cartoons by Arnold Roth.’
    • ‘Vasari's biography confirms that Leonardo began to draw the cartoon in the Sala del Papa of the monumental Dominican building complex of Santa Maria Novella.’
    • ‘There were also an exhibition of paintings, collages and cartoons by the creative group.’
    • ‘The former made cartoons for windows depicting Adam and Eve in 1865 and the latter in 1857 and 1865.’
    • ‘He then pricked this tracing through with a pin, following the standard workshop technique for transferring working drawings or cartoons to canvases.’
    • ‘Rubens made no squared up cartoons of paintings.’
    • ‘Disgruntled and angry, Michelangelo gave the Leda and its cartoon to his pupil Antonio Mini, who took both images to France.’
    • ‘However, it is unquestionably by a later sixteenth-century artist, who presumably painted it after Bronzino's cartoon.’
    • ‘The first of its kind in the region, the studio offers a range of artistic services including graphic design, cartoons, murals, logos and illustrations.’
    • ‘The largest of all the drawings Egerton acquired were the two Carracci cartoons he gave to London's National Gallery in 1837, while he was one of its trustees.’
    • ‘Boucher considered these tapestry cartoons, which belonged to Mine de Pompadour and hung in her chateau at Bellevue, to be among his happiest inventions.’
    • ‘The cartoons were shipped to Peshawar, Pakistan, and woven.’
    • ‘It may be grouped with other such pictures which we believe were executed by Bronzino on the basis of his master's drawings or cartoons.’
    • ‘At the beginning of the workshop each student prepared a cartoon (a preliminary drawing of what is going to be painted).’
    • ‘His stylish and decorative mythological paintings, tapestry cartoons, and designs for porcelain provided the setting for the lives of the rich and fashionable.’
    • ‘The competition saw some original ideas in the form of cartoons and intricate designs woven by hands-on-hands in the ‘mehndi’ section.’
    • ‘He constantly reworked his concepts in drawings and in the final cartoons, as well as in oil studies.’
    • ‘He also produced tapestry cartoons and designs for theatrical sets and costumes.’
    • ‘The creation of the tapestry cartoons, which vary in size but measure approximately eleven by sixteen feet, involved a tremendous outlay of manpower.’
    • ‘Because his reputation as a portraitist was growing, it is not surprising that an incentive was necessary to lure him back to painting tapestry cartoons.’
    sketch, rough, preliminary drawing, outline, delineation, tracing, artist's impression
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  • Make a drawing of (someone) in a simplified or exaggerated way.

    ‘she has a face with enough character to be cartooned’
    • ‘The burgled British householder used to be caricatured coming down his stairway with poker in hand, while the burglar was cartooned as holding nothing more than a jemmy.’
    • ‘Kudelka has been cartooning for The Australian since 1998 and for The Hobart Mercury since 1993.’
    • ‘So I spent an hour or two cartooning it out, and Playboy ran it as-is.’


Late 16th century (in cartoon): from Italian cartone, from carta, from Latin carta, charta (see card). cartoon dates from the mid 19th century.