Definition of dumbshow in US English:


(also dumb show)


  • 1Gestures used to convey a meaning or message without speech; mime.

    ‘they demonstrated in dumbshow how the tea should be made’
    • ‘If there's one thing that's duller than an Academy Awards ceremony, it's the red-carpet dumbshow that precedes it.’
    • ‘I, naturally enough, would be present to move this dumbshow on a bit.’
    • ‘It's all some big dumbshow and we're just Zen comedians.’
    • ‘Sadly, it seems that for much of our uncertain times the conversation between art and science remains a dumbshow.’
    • ‘A scene between her and a man plays out in a dumbshow in a doorway, like a ritualistic re-enactment of an everyday scene.’
    • ‘When you go to church, it's a hollow, diluted dumbshow: when I go to church, every gesture aches with meaning and immanence.’
    • ‘You will never, never, see someone turn right around and walk the way they were going without some accompanying dumbshow that indicates that they're not odd, they've just forgotten something.’
    dumb show, pantomime, mummery
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A piece of dramatic mime.
      ‘there were gags, spoofs, and dumbshows’
      • ‘He leads a little troupe of amateur actors from village to village, putting on an old-fashioned dumbshow - a type of humorous play with a stock plot.’
      • ‘Now, one reason for not assigning names to the characters in our dumbshow above was to avoid any personal issues entering the discussion.’
      • ‘But it isn't exactly a hand-me-down Christmas panto dumbshow either.’
      • ‘A Modernist and postmodernist epic, in places it performs the play of sestina or sonnet in an absurd or unusual light; it recasts regular and irregular histories, offering speaking parts alongside dumbshow.’
      • ‘The whole thing could almost be played as a dumbshow, with flourishes of grand guignol.’
      • ‘Then, with not enough Gentlemen available, the revelation at the court of Sicilia was reduced to a dumbshow with voice-over (not at all a bad one, mind).’
    2. 1.2 (especially in English drama of the 16th and 17th centuries) a part of a play acted in mime to summarize, supplement, or comment on the main action.
      • ‘This second trio of children functions as a dumbshow for the verbalised ‘adult’ drama of the main story.’