Definition of burlesque in English:



  • 1An absurd or comically exaggerated imitation of something, especially in a literary or dramatic work; a parody.

    ‘the funniest burlesque of opera’
    [as modifier] ‘burlesque Shakespearean stanzas’
    • ‘Sports lovers across the world can be forgiven if they have perceived the Games as a great burlesque of the tenets spelt out by Coubertin.’
    • ‘So it was a burlesque of colonial ideology, now some might call it camp, there was a little bit of that.’
    • ‘Like Douglass's burlesques, Lee uses humor as a tactical means of renovating national society.’
    • ‘One of the primary means of Douglass's early success as an abolitionist lecturer was his skill as a mimic - in particular, his burlesques of slaveholding consciousness.’
    • ‘Le Notre's coat of arms is nothing if not a burlesque of heraldic traditions.’
    • ‘Son of the Beach falls just short of being a classic along the lines of a ZAZ Brothers creation or the glorious past parodies of Mel Brooks Borscht Belt burlesques.’
    • ‘The Ode to Discord has its funny moments, but it set out to do the impossible - to burlesque music that is itself often merely a burlesque.’
    • ‘Readers interested in the novel's social trajectory - its feminism, its attempt to articulate lesbian desire - figure Matthew as a parody or burlesque of patriarchal knowledge.’
    • ‘Few writers can match his madcap burlesques, and even fewer can equal his dizzying high-wire prose.’
    • ‘Still, despite its linguistic derring-do, Vernon God Little is less a satire than a burlesque.’
    • ‘Seventies chanteuse Carly Simon wrote and performed the movie's cute folk-toned songs, and for the most part, they're catchier and way more fun than the big self-congratulatory burlesques of Disney's recent megamusicals.’
    • ‘Translation of the sixth book of the Aeneid, in burlesque. - The burlesque came into fashion at that time.’
    • ‘Think of Chad Morgan's Rabelaisian burlesques.’
    • ‘These burlesques were made independently until Michael Balcon offered to produce them through Gainsborough Pictures.’
    • ‘In 1838 he contributed to Blackwood's ‘Father Tom and the Pope’, a burlesque on Irish Catholicism.’
    • ‘It was one of the earliest of English dramatic burlesques, and was much performed during the 18th cent., during which period the genre developed to one of its highest points in Sheridan's The Critic.’
    • ‘Even photographs which seemingly degrade their sitters, such as Two men with barbel and Scrap collector holding globe are in reality witty art historical burlesques.’
    • ‘It was, however, in the ‘invention’ of the musical play, which encompasses such subgenres as operetta, burlesques, revues, and, of course, the traditional musical comedy, that the American stage truly stood out.’
    • ‘Mathews concocts burlesques and parodies of such rare excellence as to put one in mind of the broad literary japery of Terry Southern at his most inspired.’
    • ‘In the first - the Orwellian - culture becomes a prison, whereas in the second - - the Huxleyan - culture becomes a burlesque.’
    parody, caricature, travesty, pastiche, take-off, skit, imitation, satire, lampoon
    send-up, spoof
    pasquinade, pasticcio
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    1. 1.1Humor that depends on comic imitation and exaggeration; absurdity.
      ‘the argument descends into burlesque’
      • ‘The narrator integrates into Kabnis strong undercurrents of irony, parody, and the burlesque, and casts the story into a kind of mock-epic form.’
      • ‘The city has served as more than a backdrop in many of his novels; it is a central locale for the celebration of a native English tradition of spectacle, ritual observances, and festive burlesque.’
      • ‘The humour of Pimple films derived from theatrical burlesque, music-hall satire and from a tradition of buffoonery that embraced such infantilised characters as Silly Billy.’
      • ‘Certainly, he made use of all that is available in the repertoire of humour: irony, satire, parody and burlesque.’
      • ‘Abbott and Costello were among the most successful comics at making the transition from burlesque to film and radio.’
      • ‘There is also a large body of Shakespeare parody, burlesque, adaptation, and other derivative forms extant from this period.’
      • ‘In collaboration with the librettist W. S. Gilbert he contributed to English music a distinctive style of light opera, a mixture of parody, burlesque, and satire, which has achieved immense popularity in Britain and the USA.’
      • ‘If straight speaking and the didactic will not do, the ‘entertaining or engaging way’, must be sought through comic modes - caricature, burlesque, the free fall of fantasy.’
      • ‘And his account of the singer's visit to China is a masterpiece of comic burlesque.’
  • 2A variety show, typically including striptease.

    [as modifier] ‘burlesque clubs’
    • ‘While gentlemen of the aristocracy lounged at the National Theatre, drunken throngs hooted at busty showgirls in the latest burlesque revues.’
    • ‘Kickstarting the burlesque scene in London, Maria Saugar reckons the Whoopee Club will be the talk of the town at The Edinburgh Festival.’
    • ‘But Destiny's Child had more to celebrate than doing just a burlesque tease dance on-stage, they actually picked up the award for Best Group.’
    • ‘A demeaning booking in a burlesque theater gives Louise the chance to emerge from Momma's shadow and become cafe society's favorite ecdysiast.’
    • ‘Their father, Nate, has his own fair share of problems with an ailing burlesque theatre and a numbers racket that backfires, leaving him in debt to a small - time hood and drug dealer.’
    • ‘A burlesque dancer called Lily does a striptease and a celebrity hunt fails to find Sir Sean Connery.’
    • ‘The roster of tattooed, pierced misfits and post-punk gals has become a phenomenon with a recent burlesque revue touring North America.’
    • ‘I think bringing comedy back into a burlesque environment is a nice touch.’
    • ‘They were cute at first, but really - now the burlesque shows have gotten out of control.’
    • ‘As Yeager reaches his pinnacle, seemingly within reach of a stratosphere denied him, the astronauts are treated to an iconic burlesque by Sally Rand, her giant white feathered wings teasingly obscuring her naked body.’
    • ‘Denise was a guest Doll as the burlesque group took the stage at Pure nightclub in Las Vegas.’
    • ‘An Oscar-nominated actress as well as a burlesque queen, West's self-indulgence is the stuff of legend.’
    • ‘Already on standby are a contortionist, a freaky burlesque dancer and a ‘hanging skin guy.’’
    • ‘No doubt the show-stopping burlesque numbers would really have been something in color, and it's a shame that they haven't been faithfully reproduced here.’
    • ‘Rap beauty EVE, who once worked as a stripper before hitting musical success, plays a burlesque dancer in her advertisement.’
    • ‘Canned burlesque music announces the show, and three male dancers stride onstage.’
    • ‘While Marge is out of town, Homer allows Bart to work at a burlesque house.’
    • ‘In competition with musical comedy, burlesque houses, nightclubs, and especially the movies, vaudeville declined in the 1920s.’
    • ‘My speech was scheduled immediately after the fab and very sexy Immodesty Blaize - a brilliant burlesque striptease artiste and extremely hard act to follow.’
    • ‘In the story, the ‘Dixie ‘character is the headliner of the burlesque troupe working at the Old Opera House.’’
    light entertainment
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  • Cause to appear absurd by parodying or copying in an exaggerated form.

    ‘she struck a ridiculous pose that burlesqued her own vanity’
    • ‘Short comedies burlesquing cinema trends tickled insiders and sophisticates; while mainstream Gainsborough features like Blighty and The Constant Nymph achieved considerable box-office success.’
    • ‘But Haskell's narrator isn't burlesquing either Kuntry Kitchen or sun salutations performed on its floor.’
    • ‘To be an actor was literally to be consigned to hell, and the theater revenged this slight to its honor by burlesquing religion.’
    • ‘It would be easy to overplay this role… to burlesque it in the direction of Sergeant Bilko.’
    • ‘Newman burlesqued race, in terms of height, saying that short people have no reason to live.’
    • ‘Perelman's early work, which burlesques either contemporary or antique topics that are unfamiliar to me, is a little too hip for my room.’
    • ‘These events become opportunities for parading Renaissance exuberance, burlesquing medieval learning and literature, mocking classical and ecclesiastical authority, and affirming humanist values.’
    • ‘To add insult to injury, he goes on to burlesque one of the iconic phrases of devolution: ‘I do not favour a Scottish solution.’’
    • ‘It reminds me of the time Ralph Nader said ‘Don't burlesque me.’’
    • ‘Vigorous, amusing, and obscene, it burlesques a current production of Thomas Shadwell's operatic version of the Dryden - Davenant adaptation.’
    • ‘Consider the number of jokes about Scots that burlesqued their stinginess.’
    • ‘Noting the Mikado's religious role, he asked how Roman Catholics would feel if the Pope were burlesqued.’
    • ‘The point is that high-brow European music was deemed enough a part of the American vernacular to be quoted and burlesqued.’
    • ‘From the outset, however, the poem, Clough's first full-length published work, was meant as a brash ‘Anglo-Savage’ metrical experiment, at once honoring and burlesquing the classical form.’
    • ‘In his early work, Thackeray burlesqued popular authors and tried on different guises.’
    • ‘On another level, Paul's gaudy taste deliberately mocks bigoted expectations that blacks will ‘go in for loud colors’ because his flamboyance both flaunts his racial identification and burlesques it at the same time.’
    • ‘Instead of making that kind of attack, I wanted to make one that was satirical - one that would lacerate, tear apart, shred the CIA by burlesquing them, by using these great materials.’
    • ‘The novel shows how a racist representation can become so naturalized through its repetition in such forms as popular music that it engages the participation of even those whom it burlesques.’
    • ‘Though given to bouts of rueful depression himself, he could only burlesque the spectacle of an artist's self-congratulatory struggles.’
    mock, make fun of, laugh at, make jokes about, ridicule, jeer at, sneer at, deride, treat with contempt, treat contemptuously, scorn, laugh to scorn, scoff at, pillory, be sarcastic about, satirize, lampoon, burlesque, parody, tease, taunt, rag, make a monkey of, chaff, jibe at
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Mid 17th century: from French, from Italian burlesco, from burla mockery of unknown origin.