Definition of tragicomedy in English:



  • 1A play or novel containing elements of both comedy and tragedy.

    • ‘John Dancer's tragicomedy Agrippa, King of Alba appeared in 1669.’
    • ‘Artistic features Measure for Measure has been perceived as an exceptionally complex and ‘dark’ comedy, or tragicomedy, mostly because of its peculiar structure and characterization.’
    • ‘Of his three rousing tragicomedies, Juno and the Paycock is the most popular, The Shadow of a Gunman the most moving, and The Plow and the Stars the most accomplished.’
    • ‘This tragedy is transformed into a tragicomedy, and indeed, into a farce, by a mechanical device that belongs more to vaudeville than to a novel.’
    • ‘The play also captures something of Beckett's absurdist tragicomedy Waiting for Godot.’
    • ‘The terms black comedy and tragicomedy imply a mix of the mordant and the humorous.’
    • ‘And maybe, I too, was a little worried about the performance: an ultramodern and forward-looking interpretation of a tragicomedy about emotional desperation.’
    • ‘Her chance came in this 15 th-century tragicomedy by Fernando de Rojas about a madam at a brothel who agrees to help a nobleman seduce a young virgin.’
    • ‘I hated those mindless, endless Indian tragicomedies, with their maudlin themes and their (no less than) fifteen song-and-dance numbers.’
    • ‘Okay, so your life hasn't been made into a movie yet, but some days it has all of the makings of a studio tragicomedy.’
    • ‘She has crafted a consistently engaging tragicomedy of life in the big city.’
    • ‘This odd-couple tragicomedy is so well acted by both men, so utterly involving, and so real.’
    • ‘If the play were a comedy, or at least a tragicomedy, Edgar's victory over Edmund would have turned the tribulation to joy.’
    • ‘But any significant new insights into that strange, perverse Jacobean tragicomedy contrived to pass me by.’
    • ‘And he aims to complete this picture with a tragicomedy dealing with the relationship between two fiery best friends.’
    • ‘That's because it is not a tragicomedy about being old, but about the grief of settling into middle age, specifically the middle age of a married working-class man.’
    • ‘It's like a romantic comedy written by Beckett - a romantic tragicomedy - in which romance dies not in some passionate combustion, but fizzles out into uncomfortable, aseptic banality.’
    • ‘In this tragicomedy, lives and careers take place backward, starting with the corruption of success and winding up at an innocent high school graduation.’
    • ‘Unfortunately the formula that produces big laughs on screen is somewhat less amusing for the fans of this latter long-running tragicomedy.’
    1. 1.1[mass noun]Tragicomedies as a genre.
      • ‘Part fairy tale, part tragicomedy, it's sure to be a hit.’
      • ‘It would seem that tragicomedy was the new genre of the moment, and that Shakespeare, Fletcher, and Beaumont sparked each other off to develop that genre to its full potential.’
      • ‘The plays fall into the categories of history, tragedy, comedy and tragicomedy.’
      • ‘His most recent graphic novel is pure tragicomedy.’
      • ‘But both tyrant and rake coexist in tragicomedy, as they do in Clarissa.’
      • ‘It is not coincidental that tragicomedy has surfaced as a subgenre in war literature.’
      • ‘This film could have been deadly earnest and full of moral fury, but the tone is the stuff of tragicomedy.’
      • ‘Again there is a comparison with Beckett and tragicomedy, where happiness and sadness are all the more vivid from being in relief to each other.’


Late 16th century: from French tragicomédie or Italian tragicomedia, based on Latin tragicocomoedia, from tragicus (see tragic) + comoedia (see comedy).