Definition of dance of death in US English:

dance of death


  • A medieval allegorical representation in which a personified Death leads people to the grave, designed to emphasize the equality of all before death.

    Also called danse macabre
    • ‘What is a more apposite response to Bergman's era than his signature image - the characters in The Seventh Seal abandoning themselves in the end, under lowering autumn skies, to a dance of death?’
    • ‘They violate the supposedly sacrosanct boundary between the living and the dead, bringing us back to the medieval fascination with memento mort, the dance of death and the cult of the reliquary.’
    • ‘The images of the dance of death with its skulls and scythes and sinners haunted her vision - or perhaps her dreams, for when she closed her eyes, she saw them.’
    • ‘Among the earliest pictorial instances of the dance of death is a series of murals dating from 1425 and formerly (until their destruction in 1699) in the Cimetiere des Innocents in Paris.’
    • ‘The medieval dance of death operated as total allegory.’