Definition of arabesque in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˌerəˈbesk/


Image of arabesque
1An ornamental design consisting of intertwined flowing lines, originally found in Arabic or Moorish decoration: [as modifier]: arabesque scrolls
More example sentences
  • In his late style the backgrounds are light, the register of colour is greatly heightened, and the emphasis is on the decorative design of swirling Rococo arabesques of flowers and foliage.
  • Elsewhere in his oeuvre, Aboriginal dot patterns, Islamic arabesques and Chinese fire motifs lend a mystical, ancient aspect to his art.
  • The exterior is in typical late Victorian style, the arabesque influences and designs preserved for the interior.
1.1 Music A passage or composition with fanciful ornamentation of the melody.
Example sentences
  • The orchestra provides ‘a resonating environment’ for the melodies and arabesques of the flute.
  • Now, however, each melody becomes enwrapped in a vocal arabesque of such complexity that it almost vanishes and the sounds being made are not only intrusive but downright unpleasant.
  • The Beauty Pill are a surgically precise band whose compositions perform limber arabesques without losing a step, and Clark's homespun production accentuates every contortion.
2 Ballet A posture in which the body is supported on one leg, with the other leg extended horizontally backward.
Example sentences
  • The height of the extended legs in the arabesques was uniform throughout the shades and the spacing between dancers was as close to perfection as one could reasonably wish.
  • With their sculptural groupings of precisely calibrated arabesques, these dances distilled Ashton's personal classicism to pure essence.
  • The initial twelve-minute aerial dance found them on a rope suspended from the ceiling, executing arabesques while spinning with sublime grace.


Mid 17th century: from French, from Italian arabesco 'in the Arabic style', from arabo 'Arab'.

Words that rhyme with arabesque

burlesque, Dantesque, desk, grotesque, humoresque, Junoesque, Kafkaesque, Moresque, picaresque, picturesque, plateresque, Pythonesque, Romanesque, sculpturesque, statuesque

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: ar·a·besque

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