Definition of carnival in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkɑːnɪv(ə)l/


1An annual festival, typically during the week before Lent in Roman Catholic countries, involving processions, music, dancing, and the use of masquerade: the culmination of the week-long carnival [mass noun]: Mardi Gras is the last day of carnival [as modifier]: a carnival parade
More example sentences
  • Unless there is more public support the annual carnival procession in Marlborough could disappear.
  • Devizes was alive with colour and music as the carnival procession wound its way through the town on Saturday.
  • Each year the carnival procession parades through the centre of Calne starting from the Porte Marsh Industrial Estate.
festival, fiesta, fete, gala, jamboree, holiday, celebration, party;
parade, procession, march, tattoo
1.1A public event or celebration, typically held outdoors and involving stalls, entertainment, and processions: children from Wroughton are getting ready for the village carnival
More example sentences
  • Having flexible hours enables her to attend the odd school carnival.
  • Shop assistant Jeanette, from Accrington, was a former beauty queen who clinched two local carnival titles.
  • Far North Coast athletes have few opportunities to test themselves in competition outside of the traditional school carnivals.
1.2An exciting or riotous mixture of elements: the film is a visual and aural carnival
More example sentences
  • One of the more exciting developments in weblogging has been the proliferation of carnivals.
  • Here, the web of linguistic and visual signs returns the viewer to the terrain of the carnival.
  • But there is no comfort in a continuously constructed carnival of bands and opera singers.
2North American A travelling funfair or circus: he worked at a carnival, climbing Ferris wheels and working 18-hour days
More example sentences
  • As a result, Truzzi was intrigued by magic, juggling, sideshows, carnivals, and circuses.
  • In the back of the book was a section about the foods invented at fairs, circuses and carnivals.
  • Zoos have been around for hundreds of years, the first ones being like freak shows attached to carnivals and circuses.
funfair, circus, fair, amusement show, sideshows



Pronunciation: /kɑːnɪv(ə)ˈlɛsk/
Example sentences
  • In one carnivalesque scene the peasants return to their abandoned village to find their clothes piled up, sorted by colour; they throw them orgiastically into the air, choosing what they will - their collective property.
  • Bodily transformations, plastic surgery, mutation and cloning are some of the themes choreographer/dancer Carole Courtois touches upon in her carnivalesque production Vacuum.
  • Never since has there been a more gorgeous depiction of Rome in all its carnivalesque glory, even though at the time it was unusual to shoot an entire production on location.


Mid 16th century: from Italian carnevale, carnovale, from medieval Latin carnelevamen, carnelevarium 'Shrovetide', from Latin caro, carn- 'flesh' + levare 'put away'.

  • Originally a carnival was, in Roman Catholic countries, the period before Lent, a time of public merrymaking and festivities. It comes from medieval Latin carnelevamen ‘Shrovetide’. The base elements of the Latin word are caro, carn- ‘flesh’ and levare ‘to put away’, before the meat-free fasting of Lent began. There is a popular belief that carnival is from carne vale, ‘farewell, meat’, but this is mistaken. Other flesh-related words that come from caro include carnivorous (late 16th century), carnage (early 17th century), carnation (late 16th century) (from the flower's ‘fleshy’ colour), carrion (Middle English), and incarnation (Middle English).

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: car¦ni|val

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