Definition of marionette in English:



  • 1A puppet worked by strings.

    ‘the bird bobs up and down like a marionette’
    • ‘His words became little white letters on the bottom of the screen for my benefit, his mouth moving soundlessly like a marionette, a puppet with his strings drawn by the public.’
    • ‘She suddenly felt as if she were a marionette whose strings were pulled so taut that she was forced onto her toes, her head pulled back.’
    • ‘I almost saw Don Giovanni performed by marionettes - the Czech marionette tradition is one of the best in Europe!’
    • ‘Later, in the '90s, she visited Prague, where she met and studied with Czech puppeteers and discovered the allure of marionettes and puppet theatre.’
    • ‘In Movement of Animals Aristotle likened the body's actions to those of a marionette, in that the bones correspond to the pegs and the sinews to the strings which cause movements.’
    • ‘A marionette danced on strings, a jester decking in bells and bright red and yellow.’
    • ‘Rather than cardboard cutouts, like South Park, the movie uses puppets - marionettes, actually.’
    • ‘Here you get to see real marionettes and puppeteers in action.’
    • ‘Puppet shows using glove and hand puppets, shadow puppets, and marionettes are performed there, depicting stories from Uzbek history.’
    • ‘Folklore also surrounds Belgium's traditional puppet theater, whose marionettes are based on characters from the tales of their particular cities.’
    • ‘Jim Henson founded his company in 1958, inventing the term ‘muppet’ as a cross between the words marionette and puppet.’
    • ‘And the motion of these characters is positively stilted and looks like marionettes on strings as they bob and nod about.’
    • ‘The tale, which is told by two puppeteers, features marionettes, hand puppets, rod puppets and mask and stilt characters.’
    • ‘For clarification, Teresa was explaining to the class that they were going to be like marionettes hanging by the strings.’
    • ‘Making the puppets so large, though, undermines the puppet actors' role; why use marionettes if they are as big as people?’
    • ‘Performed by a series of exquisite marionettes, it is truly magical.’
    • ‘I chose to start with the medical exam because I wanted to show the weakness of the human body in a situation in which the body seems to be moved by strings, like a marionette.’
    • ‘The figure dances, like a marionette whose strings are pulled by popular music; yet the figure is also flexible, suggestive perhaps of the flexibility of style itself.’
    • ‘Reaching out, the fingers started waggling like a marionette having its strings being pulled.’
    • ‘For us, real marionettes, string marionettes, produced those moments of otherness, they created a spell, something very unnerving, disquieting.’
    glove puppet, hand puppet, finger puppet, rod puppet, shadow puppet
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A person who is easily manipulated or controlled.
      ‘many officers dismissed him as the mayor's marionette’


Early 17th century: from French marionnette, from Marion, diminutive of the given name Marie.