Definition of vaudeville in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈvɔːdəvɪl/


[mass noun]
1A type of entertainment popular chiefly in the US in the early 20th century, featuring a mixture of speciality acts such as burlesque comedy and song and dance: his comedic roots are in vaudeville [as modifier]: a stage show with vaudeville acts and dancing girls
More example sentences
  • Their march will take them to the old Town Hall, which has been replaced by ‘The Palace,’ a saloon that features vaudeville acts and dancing girls.
  • Singalongs, comedy acts, and ‘variety’ performances were staged in pubs regularly before music halls and vaudeville theatres became firmly established from the mid-nineteenth century.
  • As early as 1913, Billboard, a music industry journal, had begun printing weekly sheet music bestseller charts and surveys of the most popular songs in vaudeville.
1.1 [count noun] A light or comic stage play with interspersed songs.
Example sentences
  • Cellier wrote numerous comic operas, vaudevilles, one grand opera, The Masque of Pandora, and a few instrumental works.
  • In English Canada, Shakespeare served as protection against the incursions of American commercialism; in French Canada, against imported French vaudevilles.
  • It made its presence felt in turn-of-the-century vaudevilles and was crucial to many Hollywood comedies in the years surrounding World War II, particularly the films of Ernst Lubitsch and Billy Wilder.
1.2 [count noun] archaic A satirical or topical song with a refrain.



Pronunciation: /vɔːdəˈvɪlɪən/
adjective& noun
Example sentences
  • He was the character actor, I was more the vaudevillian, pantomime comedian, and we both learnt a lot from each other.
  • Coming to us from Toronto, this ‘dark vaudevillian comedy’ tells the true story of a couple of Victorian girls who claimed they could communicate with the dead.
  • On Wednesday, TV Land is rerunning an episode of Fantasy Island with Phil Silvers as a has-been vaudevillian.


Mid 18th century: from French, earlier vau de ville (or vire), said to be a name given originally to songs composed by Olivier Basselin, a 15th-century fuller born in Vau de Vire in Normandy.

  • Olivier Basselin was a 15th-century Frenchman from Vau de Vire, Normandy, who composed songs reputedly given the name chansons du Vau de Vire, or ‘songs of the valley of Vire’. This was adapted to French ville ‘town’ and became vau de ville and later vaudeville, which was applied to a light popular song sung on the stage, the first meaning of vaudeville in English in the mid 18th century.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: vaude|ville

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