Definition of arabesque in English:


Syllabification: ar·a·besque
Pronunciation: /ˌarəˈbesk


  • 1An ornamental design consisting of intertwined flowing lines, originally found in Arabic or Moorish decoration: [as modifier]: arabesque scrolls
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    • 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.
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    • 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.
    More 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'.

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