Definition of arabesque in US English:

arabesque

noun

  • 1Ballet
    A posture in which the body is supported on one leg, with the other leg extended horizontally backward.

    • ‘Three men in white shirts, black pants and starched ties do wobbly arabesques as if struggling against the wind.’
    • ‘The height of the extended legs in the arabesques was uniform throughout the shades and the spacing between dancers was as close to perfection as one could reasonably wish.’
    • ‘With their sculptural groupings of precisely calibrated arabesques, these dances distilled Ashton's personal classicism to pure essence.’
    • ‘Ballet classes have begun right here in Chiswick, aimed not at schoolgirls or internationally acclaimed dancing stars, but at adults who may never have performed a pointe or an arabesque in their lives.’
    • ‘The initial twelve-minute aerial dance found them on a rope suspended from the ceiling, executing arabesques while spinning with sublime grace.’
  • 2An ornamental design consisting of intertwined flowing lines, originally found in Arabic or Moorish decoration.

    as modifier ‘arabesque scrolls’
    • ‘The curtain's incised pattern of soft green, stemlike arabesques recalls 19 th-century wallpaper design and, at the same time, snakes or lizards curling into themselves.’
    • ‘Italian sgraffito designs were mostly scrolls or arabesque patterns.’
    • ‘Yet Matisse continued to work in this trademark style, with its emphasis on arabesque lines, bright colors and decoration, throughout his long artistic life.’
    • ‘It is to be noted that in ‘classical’ Islamic architecture in Persia, decoration took the form of very geometric carving - arabesque - in intricate patterns, as well as verses from the Koran.’
    • ‘The latter's designs for arabesques of ironwork for garden gates, are still to be found in the Stifling papers in Glasgow.’
    • ‘It is decorated with birds and various animals set against a lush pattern of arabesques - intricate patterns of interlaced lines.’
    • ‘These elements are set against a large field in shades of pink, swept with arabesques of grays and dashes of white, sometimes with light impasto in the brushwork.’
    • ‘Cassatt's color prints, with their spatial compression, play of abstract patterns, bold blocks of color, and arabesque lines, fulfilled the conditions of this new symbolist art.’
    • ‘Of Near Eastern inspiration are the arabesques, ogees, scrolls, and flower heads outlined in raised gold paste.’
    • ‘Other panels are decorated with arabesques consisting of delicate scrolls incorporating stylized sunflowers and anthemia rendered in very thin lines of ivory-colored paint.’
    • ‘Such circles and lines, plus arabesques and rectilinear passages, occur in most of the work that follows.’
    • ‘‘The arabesque patterns symbolize the five important attributes of the Koran,’ he continues.’
    • ‘Elsewhere in his oeuvre, Aboriginal dot patterns, Islamic arabesques and Chinese fire motifs lend a mystical, ancient aspect to his art.’
    • ‘The exterior is in typical late Victorian style, the arabesque influences and designs preserved for the interior.’
    • ‘Matisse said he was possessed at this point by a love of line and of the arabesque - ‘those givers of life’ - which stirred his senses and appeased his spirit.’
    • ‘He draws arabesques with charcoal and thinned black acrylic, creating labyrinths of interconnected markings often structured by a loose grid.’
    • ‘A single-panel work has arabesques of vines and blooms surrounding the word ‘OOPS!’’
    • ‘Add to this a loose, flowing pattern of arabesques and vines, rendered in paint and other mediums.’
    • ‘In some paintings this element takes the form of a single continuous line, while in others it includes shorter line fragments drifting off as disembodied arabesques.’
    • ‘In his late style the backgrounds are light, the register of colour is greatly heightened, and the emphasis is on the decorative design of swirling Rococo arabesques of flowers and foliage.’
    elaborate, ornate, fancy
    View synonyms
  • 3Music
    A passage or composition with fanciful ornamentation of the melody.

    • ‘The balance between instruments is especially fine when the inner voices begin to spin their own tentative arabesques.’
    • ‘The Beauty Pill are a surgically precise band whose compositions perform limber arabesques without losing a step, and Clark's homespun production accentuates every contortion.’
    • ‘Now, however, each melody becomes enwrapped in a vocal arabesque of such complexity that it almost vanishes and the sounds being made are not only intrusive but downright unpleasant.’
    • ‘The movement had the dreamy, almost improvisatory aura of an arabesque.’
    • ‘The orchestra provides ‘a resonating environment’ for the melodies and arabesques of the flute.’

Origin

Mid 17th century: from French, from Italian arabesco ‘in the Arabic style’, from arabo ‘Arab’.

Pronunciation

arabesque

/ˌɛrəˈbɛsk//ˌerəˈbesk/