Student Dictionary

One entry found for grotesque.
Main Entry: gro·tesque
Pronunciation: gromacr-primarystresstesk
Function: adjective
Etymology: from French grotesque "relating to or being a style of art with unusual designs and combinations of figures of animals, humans, and plants," from Italian (pittura) grottesca "cave painting," from grottesca "of a cave," from grotta, grotto "cave," from Latin crypta "cavern, crypt" --related to GROTTO
1 : combining (as in a painting) details not found together in nature
2 : unnaturally odd or ugly
- gro·tesque·ly adverb
- gro·tesque·ness noun
Word History When the Italians were digging among the ruins of ancient Rome, they found strange paintings on the walls of some of the rooms. These paintings were of human and animal forms mixed with those of strange fruits and flowers. The Italians called such a painting pittura grottesca, which means "cave painting." The Italian adjective grottesca came from grotta, meaning "cave." We also get English grotto from this word. The Italian word grotta in turn came from the Latin crypta, which meant "cavern, crypt." The French borrowed the word grottesca from Italian and spelled it grotesque. This is the form in which it came into English. At first the adjective was used to describe pictures having strange combinations of things not normally found together. Later it came to be used for anything that looked weird or unnatural.

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