Definition of mime in English:



  • 1[mass noun] The theatrical technique of suggesting action, character, or emotion without words, using only gesture, expression, and movement.

    ‘mime is part of our cultural heritage’
    • ‘McColl's delightful monologue is the most well integrated of the five, assisted by physical theatre and mime.’
    • ‘He uses mime, movement, acrobatics and text in a very literate way.’
    • ‘The ‘provocative and powerful’ show combines humour, spectacle, character comedy and mime on September 26 - October 1.’
    • ‘Contrary to popular misconception, it is not a collection of gestures or mime.’
    • ‘A training system needs to integrate technique, style, mime, acting, character dancing, and historical dance.’
    • ‘All aspects of the theatre will be covered including games, improvisation, script, mime, physical theatre and clowning.’
    • ‘It offers workshops providing acting skills, voice, movement, mime, improvisation, text reading, stagecraft, character development and confidence building.’
    • ‘He muffed a few steps in his solo, but for most of the ballet delivered well the extraordinary combination of modern technique, mime and classical choreography.’
    • ‘Her pupils learn all about camera work, have step-by-step vocal exercises, discover how to create new characters, find out all about movement, mime and script work and are also taught all about audition techniques.’
    • ‘Improvisational mime and innovative physical theatre tell the story of a dysfunctional family living outside the law.’
    • ‘She trained in mime and physical theatre, acted on stage and on TV, and ran theatres in Islington and St Catherine's Docks before seeing the job at Jacksons Lane advertised.’
    • ‘He did not undergo any special studies in mime or movement.’
    • ‘Her storytelling manner is highly stylised and she uses elements of mime in her movements.’
    • ‘Her vocabulary was composed of simple runs, skips, and jumps; large, expressive gestures and playful mime.’
    • ‘Their easy, unforced use of gesture breathes life into mime, making it an extension of speech.’
    • ‘Lose yourself at the Wits Theatre in Braamfontein, where Just In Time interweaves mime and movement, and illusion and the surreal take centre stage.’
    • ‘Sometimes she added her own witty mime to the words or pulled a funny face to make us laugh, and we did laugh.’
    • ‘Backyard Theatre Company provides training for acting, mime and improvisation, scriptwriting, filmmaking and community drama.’
    • ‘He was the outsider who was on intimate terms with them, communicating through comic mime with expressions and gestures that became a well known code.’
    • ‘Go along to see a variety of dance including contemporary, hip hop, cabaret, physical theatre, salsa, mime and physical character.’
    1. 1.1[count noun]A theatrical performance using mime.
      ‘the ceremony was followed by a series of precise mimes, dances, and songs’
      • ‘Martin Rowland and Colm Grealis performed wonders in a mime about a visit to the dreaded dentist.’
      • ‘But after a point, blogging without writing gets to be like the electronic equivalent of street miming, and we all know how lame and annoying street mimes can get.’
      • ‘On the night of January 27 there will be a two-hour multi cultural performance of drama, songs, dances and mimes.’
      • ‘Anyone who wanted to take part in any way, be it dancing, singing, telling an impromptu story or doing a mime, was given the opportunity to perform.’
      • ‘Any series that can combine absinthe, mannequins, mimes, and beheadings and pull it off is okay in my book.’
      • ‘The mime in Act 1 looked foreshortened - but I'm used to the Peter Wright version which makes much of it.’
      • ‘They cleared the floor and treated the crowd to a mime and dance routine that had us all in stitches.’
      • ‘Remembered primarily as a pastoral poet, he was in fact a most versatile writer, and a bridal hymn, a panegyric, and a mime describing two middle-class women at a showy religious ceremony are among his best pieces.’
      • ‘The crowd were then treated to a mime performed by pupils of 3rd class.’
      • ‘With a cast of 66, lots of music and humour, the mime is produced by Aysha Rau and directed by Aparna Gopinath.’
      • ‘A six-member troupe of students presented a mime based on unemployment problems of the youth as well as on issues such as dowry and corruption in various Government departments.’
      • ‘Her majesty also watched a mime and street dance performance from students at Welling School on the theme of life as a teenager.’
      • ‘Their attack on George, a 58 year-old United Church minister who was performing a mime, was totally uncalled for, and seemed to be designed to provoke an angry reaction from a peaceful crowd.’
      • ‘The school won for performing a street mime showing God's wonderful creation of trees and flowers, butterflies, lady-birds, and insects of all kinds enjoying a clean environment.’
      dumb show, pantomime, mummery
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    2. 1.2[count noun]An action or actions intended to convey another action, an idea, or an emotion.
      ‘he performed a brief mime of someone fencing’
      • ‘I managed to communicate to her what I had discovered through a series of mimes, mews and whisker movements.’
      • ‘And, when they do, they always smile and sigh, and there's a silent mime of applause.’
      • ‘Lachlan Rayburn saw her looking at him and, to her complete astonishment, put his hands together in the mime of applause before turning his back to her and shoving his way out of the crowd of people.’
      • ‘In his elation, he performed another of his mimes.’
      • ‘Joshua made circles of his fingers over his eyes, a brief mime of spectacles.’
      • ‘Finally he ended with a mime of what looked like the preparation of an egg dish.’
      dumb show, pantomime, mummery
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    3. 1.3[count noun]A practitioner of mime or a performer in a mime.
      ‘he's a very fine actor and mime artist’
      ‘troupes of feminist mimes’
      • ‘Musicians, dancers, acrobats, clowns, actors, mimes and every hybrid in between entertain and educate audiences of kids, their parents and teachers.’
      • ‘MacLean is an adept physical comic and a skilled mime, which adds a bit of flare here, but this gloss hardly excuses the standard manner in which the play unfolds.’
      • ‘Past various buskers, mimes and outdoor performance artists we slowly made our way towards the Empress Hotel, a gorgeous chateau-style grand hotel dating back to 1908.’
      • ‘Initially 20 professional mimes shadowed pedestrians who didn't follow crossing rules: A pedestrian running across the road would be tracked by a mime who mocked his every move.’
      • ‘And for the first time it seems to be populated by people, not jerky mimes in pancake makeup.’
      • ‘Other entertainment included talented mimes, beauty contests and other on-stage performances, boxing, water sports competitions and loads of local and regional merchandise displayed along Beach Road.’
      • ‘There will be actors strolling among the crowds, square dancers, singers, mimes and someone creating balloon animals.’
      • ‘Illya was a white-blond pre-bald beatnik in black everything plus turtleneck who brought to mind one of those theatre of the absurd clowns we now associate with mimes and Frenchmen in general.’
      • ‘So far Joan has encountered the Almighty as a street sweeper, a mime, a guy from the power company, a naval recruiter, and a little girl playing with a ball in the park.’
      • ‘There are street minstrels, acrobats, story tellers, mimes, and painters.’
      • ‘She has a habit of being photographed menacing her band-mate with an antique sword, for one thing, and for another, well, she makes herself up like a mime before performances.’
      • ‘Was it his experience of studying with legendary French mimes Jacques Lecoq and Philippe Gaultier?’
      • ‘I was enormously gratified, especially considering that Doug's first impression of me was formed at our launch event, where I was acting as a mime.’
      • ‘From a pair of mimes to a company the size of Cirque du Soleil, the French are visited by dozens of new-circus troupes a year.’
      • ‘From here we observed the mime artists performing in the glorious fountained gardens.’
      • ‘The magic tricks of Astor, the performance of mimes and the band will keep the party spirit up.’
      • ‘The show will also have some mime artists giving performances.’
      • ‘I didn't talk much in my other classes, but it was a mandatory thing to talk in theatre, unless you wanted to be a mime and I wasn't into all those horizontal stripes, they made me look hippy.’
      • ‘One night a friend and I went into town to see the mime artist Marcel Marceau.’
      • ‘You have to imagine a combination of Dr Johnson, Isaiah Berlin, Peter Sellers, and don't forget Charlie Chaplin because Peter was a great mime too.’
  • 2(in ancient Greece and Rome) a simple farcical drama including mimicry.

    ‘the Dorian mimes first began to lay the foundations of the theatre’
    • ‘These were designed for public performances - gladiatorial contests and other spectacles in the amphitheatres, plays and mimes in the theatres - and were accessible to all classes of Roman society.’
    • ‘In fact, in Greece during the first centuries ad the term denoted a category of actors who recreated ancient legends on stage through dramatic mimes!’
    • ‘N. Purcell examines imperial mimes, K. Coleman presents a study of the punishment of delatores - those who had spied for previous (and now deceased and discredited) emperors.’
    • ‘His works have not survived, and the only known Greek mimes date from two centuries later.’
    dumb show, pantomime, mummery
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  • 1[with object] Use only gesture and movement to act out (a play or role)

    ‘a mimed play’
    [no object] ‘they've even mimed in a restaurant hall’
    • ‘They gave him easy stuff to do, such as miming a scene while someone else did the voice.’
    • ‘The title role was mimed in the original version.’
    • ‘So Jon and I were standing there, miming this scene from Moonlight Mile - and have I mentioned just how scrumptious Jake Gyllenhaal looks in this movie, with the doe eyes and the buttery, knobby shoulders?’
    1. 1.1Convey or represent (an action, idea, or emotion) by using only gesture and movement.
      ‘Eddie mimed an attack of nausea’
      • ‘For as I had worshipped in the Christian churches, prayed to God, did everything the creatures about me did, I was simply miming the acts, the gestures, the holy phrases.’
      • ‘He mimed her ceaseless talking with a gesture of his right hand.’
      • ‘Spitefully, Madame Defarge replies that she has indeed observed Lucie and makes a sinister gesture miming the guillotine.’
      • ‘Robyn stood back and clasped her hands together, miming maidenly awe.’
      • ‘He mimes gun motions in the mirror with his hands, and looks on the Internet for assistance in acquiring one.’
      • ‘She mimes the movements of her double, projected same-size on the screen of her own body.’
      • ‘It feels real, thanks to the inclusion of a small girl who can effectively mime fear and horror.’
      • ‘As Sancho runs to help, the clown climbs upon his donkey and mimes the funny scene he has just witnessed and then returns the donkey.’
      • ‘For example, in one early scene, he wakes Barrett up with a boisterous aria from ‘The Barber of Seville,’ but his hand over Barrett gently mimes a stabbing motion.’
      • ‘In one of the most arresting scenes in the film we see Szpilman miming the piano with his hands hovering over the keys in order to not make a sound and be detected.’
      • ‘In its most vividly political form, dancers mime movements from the hunt as they chant joyful threats at police holding machine guns.’
      • ‘As each number came up, the girls silently mouthed the lyrics and moved subtly in their seats, miming the actors' gestures.’
      • ‘Two big men with faces flushed from drink look over, miming cricketing actions that would not get them selected for a half-decent junior school team.’
      • ‘The latter is a chance for the artists to flex their iconic muscle, using manga's sophisticated visual code to mime new heights of emotion.’
      • ‘In the final ‘whipping’ scene he really looks like a drama student miming agony, sad to say.’
      • ‘My character mimed ill-disguised boredom while waiting for him to settle down.’
      • ‘Boris, playing to the crowd, mimed the pratfall from his side of the court.’
      • ‘The video shows lots of river shots, while the dancers mime fishlike movements.’
      • ‘After a few moments, Telli seemed to have decided that there were no obvious dangers in the castle, as he turned back and, still too careful to shout down, made gestures with his arms and hands miming someone climbing a rope.’
      • ‘I mimed a throat-slitting gesture with my finger and followed it up by tugging on an invisible rope around my neck; David snorted into his mug.’
      act out, pantomime, use gestures to indicate, gesture, simulate, represent, indicate by dumb show, indicate by sign language
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  • 2[no object] Pretend to sing or play an instrument as a recording is being played.

    ‘singers on television often mime to pre-recorded tape tracks’
    • ‘Thankfully, the thundering of the powerful droplets against the canvas roofing of the tent drowned out the warbling of five staff I'd never seen before miming to some song or other.’
    • ‘It's not as exciting as listening to a good act, backed by live musicians, but it beats trying to work out if the ‘turn’ is actually singing, or merely miming to his/her/their tapes!’
    • ‘Sonya Waters tells many a fascinating tale about her life as a rock chick in early punk bands in Auckland and then stints in the UK (briefly as a member of the Thompson Twins, miming on a TV show) and the US.’
    • ‘The song's video features Kay and celebrities including Michael Parkinson and soap actors William Roache and Anne Kirkbride - Coronation Street's Ken and Deirdre Barlow - miming along to the song.’
    • ‘The cabaret this night was a Geri Halliwell tribute, and consisted mainly of various drag acts miming to her records.’
    • ‘They then hired a young unknown Chester band called The Wayriders to mime to the track in the accompanying video.’
    • ‘And here was this callow, insolent youth, miming to an absurdly ‘cleaned up’ version of the track which merely involved the surgical removal of the rude words in question.’
    • ‘There they all were, standing by the river, looking disappointingly ordinary in broad daylight, miming to whatever single they had out at the time - presumably for some Saturday morning kids' TV show.’
    • ‘David has now left the country along with his wife who apparently used to mime on some hit records.’
    • ‘A couple of weeks ago in the US, teeny pop star Ashlee Simpson was caught out miming to the wrong song on Saturday Night Live.’
    • ‘Matt, Charlie and James will collectively flick the switch at 5.30 this Sunday and will then mime to some of their popular chart hits such as What I Go To School For and Year 3000.’
    • ‘They put the music on loud in the background and she had to mime to it.’
    • ‘For the most part the other contestants either mimed to foreign recordings or gyrated to Indian music.’
    • ‘She had been asked to mime in the choir during performances so wasn't confident about singing but we didn't care.’
    • ‘Pace, on the other hand, looks a bit like a teacher who thought he was funny at the end of the year and used to get up and do a turn which involved miming to a Status Quo record whilst wearing a funny wig.’
    • ‘But the only apparent connection with Miss Dando was that she had taken part in a charity film for Comic Relief in 1993 in which she mimed along to a Queen song.’
    • ‘During the orchestral interludes, the curtain remains up and characters mime to the music.’
    • ‘It was reminiscent of the television commercial which shows a cheating singer being chased out of a platteland town when a record he mimes to gets stuck.’
    • ‘We also had some Simon and Garfunkel which we would use to mime to and put on concerts!’
    • ‘Blue, the most extraordinary pop band of the last thirty years, used to mime on their records.’


Early 17th century (also in the sense ‘mimic or jester’): from Latin mimus, from Greek mimos.