Definition of pantomime in English:



  • 1British A theatrical entertainment, mainly for children, which involves music, topical jokes, and slapstick comedy and is based on a fairy tale or nursery story, usually produced around Christmas.

    as modifier ‘a pantomime villain’
    mass noun ‘he is currently appearing in pantomime in Manchester’
    • ‘Meanwhile, fans of side-splitting comedy can also take in the Grand Opera House's Christmas pantomime, Snow White And The Seven Dwarfs.’
    • ‘Sleeping Beauty is a tale most people know mainly through pantomimes and the work of Walt Disney but at Stonar School pupils wanted to get back to basics and tell the original tale.’
    • ‘Last month, about 80 children, aged between eight and 11, auditioned for the Christmas pantomime, all hoping to tread the boards alongside the cast.’
    • ‘We started putting on entertainment shows at the Harvest Supper and pantomimes at Christmas.’
    • ‘Hart plays the genie in this raucous take on the British pantomime, a story based on the myth of Aladdin and his magic lamp.’
    • ‘They take up residence at the Pavilion Theatre for the annual pantomime of silly jokes and bad wigs in an all new, up-to-date production of Jack and the Beanstalk.’
    • ‘With a London debut in 1891, he quickly established a successful career in music-hall, variety, pantomime, revue, operetta, and musical comedy.’
    • ‘The society have been at the forefront of local theatrical drama for over two decades, staging some magnificent productions in serious drama, comedy, pantomime and more.’
    • ‘He is one of life's nice guys - yet he always plays villains in pantomimes.’
    • ‘This pantomime follows the story line closely, and yet manages to get the up to date flavour with some current pop chart songs, which go down very well with the younger members of the audience.’
    • ‘He has also written children's plays, pantomimes, comedy sketches and radio commercials and has directed more than 100 productions, spanning everything from Shakespeare to stand-up comedy.’
    • ‘To add to the magic of Christmas, pantomimes offer exciting and engaging family entertainment, and Glasgow offers a fun-filled selection.’
    • ‘Headteacher Carole Whitehurst says it was quite an eye opener for a generation of children who are far more familiar with Disney's version of fables and fairytales than the pantomimes.’
    • ‘Shield composed more than 40 light operas, pantomimes, and ballad operas, as well as string quartets and trios, other instrumental pieces, and numerous songs.’
    • ‘She was in a pantomime at Christmas and was dancing and singing, said Mr Riordan.’
    • ‘When Christmas came along these theatres presented spectacular pantomimes with massive stars, whether of the theatre, the films, or in later years, television.’
    • ‘In carnival, the Commedia dell'Arte, the pantomime, and slapstick we find a modern expression of the trickster impulse.’
    • ‘Roll over Cinderella and tell Sleeping Beauty the news, York has a new and most unlikely pantomime in town.’
    • ‘Calne Players will be bringing all the fun and laughter of a pantomime to the town next week with their performance of Cinderella.’
    • ‘On stage he has played character roles in Ray Cooney farces, pantomime, Noel Coward comedies and serious drama.’
    light entertainment
    View synonyms
  • 2A dramatic entertainment, originating in Roman mime, in which performers express meaning through gestures accompanied by music.

    • ‘Her major example is ‘Circe,’ where gesture and pantomime are all-important.’
    • ‘In a totally unstructured environment, they present this creative explosion through modern dance, mime, pantomime and music with a whole lot of playfulness.’
    • ‘In portraying vivid dramatic characters, realistic pantomime plays as important a role as the dance.’
    • ‘These kinds of inferential processes go on constantly in interaction, as we all know, on the basis of indexical signals that work like gestures in pantomime.’
    • ‘The vast majority of this movie is told in near pantomime: gestures, facial expressions, and stage direction.’
    • ‘There are no words in the film - everything is performed in a solemn pantomime, with the dry humor left up to our own imaginations.’
    • ‘With his silent pantomime and human special effect stature, the performance borders on the right side of genius.’
    dumb show, pantomime, mummery
    View synonyms
  • 3An absurdly exaggerated piece of behaviour.

    ‘he made a pantomime of checking his watch’
    • ‘The youthful energy and innovation have gone, and his choice of sport is problematic because wrestling is already a theatrical pantomime.’
    • ‘I have no idea if any of the fruit ever entered his mouth, or if his body could actually interact with corporeal objects, or if he was only performing an elaborate pantomime for my benefit.’
    • ‘Cameron's posing on a podium on Friday, inviting Lib Dems to join his Tory revolution, was an appropriate piece of pantomime to end Parliament's last full week before Christmas.’
    • ‘He attacks Royal Ascot for being an absurdity and a pantomime.’
    • ‘He has described the last meeting of Castlebar Town Council as the most entertaining performance of a pantomime that has been rehearsing for the last four years.’
    fuss, commotion, trouble, bother, upset, agitation, stir, excitement, ado, hurly-burly, palaver, rigmarole
    View synonyms
    1. 3.1 An absurd or confused situation.
      ‘the drive to town was a pantomime’
      • ‘The room is now illuminated only by the television that paints its own confused pantomime on the walls.’
      • ‘The pantomime descended into tragedy last week and this evening became a farce.’
      • ‘Rocky needed a bath and that is a real pantomime as he HATES being washed.’
      • ‘Feeding time, for them all, is a real pantomime!’
      commotion, uproar, outcry, disturbance, hubbub, hurly-burly, fuss, upset, tumult, brouhaha, palaver, to-do, pother, turmoil, tempest, agitation, pandemonium, confusion
      View synonyms


  • Express or represent by exaggerated mime.

    ‘they pantomimed picking up dropped food’
    • ‘He pantomimed throwing the lasso around the horse's neck, then whooped and made as if to wave his hat through the air.’
    • ‘She pantomimed hurt, placing her free hand melodramatically on her breast.’
    • ‘He pantomimed zipping his lips and throwing away the key.’
    • ‘You sing along, making sure to pantomime your heart breaking.’
    • ‘An example of a test for apraxia is to ask the patient to pantomime the use of a common object such as a hammer or a toothbrush.’
    • ‘He opened his mouth and pantomimed sticking his finger down his throat, and then gagging.’
    • ‘He dramatically pantomimed singing that line, but did nothing else.’
    • ‘Simon glances at him, sees the hood, shrugs, then pantomimes the drill, pointing down at the ice, finger going in circles.’
    • ‘I pantomimed opening a letter and smoothing it out.’
    • ‘He can also pantomime explosions and use a simple movement to suggest a picture, and it just comes across.’
    • ‘The scene began, and I pantomimed that I was writing in my notebook and I became totally engrossed.’
    • ‘Lifting each piece, he pointed at the corresponding article of clothing on his own body, then pantomimed putting it on.’
    • ‘She stops to pantomime the drawing back of an arrow in a bow and lets the arrow fly.’
    • ‘Tom sighed and pointed to the crater, then pantomimed climbing down.’
    • ‘He carefully avoided touching the microphone, then pantomimed giving a dramatic speech, suppressing a grin as he imagined himself the next great leader of some national movement.’
    • ‘He nodded and pantomimed with his hands how he sprayed the medication into his nostrils.’
    • ‘She made a waving motion with her hand in front of her mouth, trying to pantomime words coming from her.’
    • ‘‘I was up here,’ Berra, 76, says as he pantomimes a helicopter swing.’
    • ‘With a single, fluid step, he brought the staff whistling through the air in both hands, and then released one hand to pantomime a short jab.’
    • ‘When she didn't answer, he pantomimed drinking, then pointed from her to himself.’
    act out, pantomime, use gestures to indicate, gesture, simulate, represent, indicate by dumb show, indicate by sign language
    View synonyms


Late 16th century (first used in the Latin form and denoting an actor using mime): from French pantomime or Latin pantomimus, from Greek pantomimos ‘imitator of all’ (see panto-, mime).