Definition of cartoon in English:

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Pronunciation: /kärˈto͞on/


1A simple drawing showing the features of its subjects in a humorously exaggerated way, especially a satirical one in a newspaper or magazine.
Example sentences
  • He also turned to satirical cartoons and illustrations for newspapers and magazines.
  • There were press attacks and vicious satirical cartoons featuring Queen Victoria throughout the middle of the 19th century.
  • It's an addition to the Comics page, devoted not to an artist, or a strip, or a subject, but just to a year: the newspaper cartoons of 1907.
caricature, parody, lampoon, satire
informal takeoff, sendup
1.1A comic strip.
Example sentences
  • Other rooms have editorial and panel cartoons, comic strips, texts for studio photo books, and many public addresses and lectures.
  • But I moved from the realm of cartoons and comic strips to really studying a lot more expressive art.
  • However, cartoons and comic strips have been straitjacketed into either mythology, fables or other books brought out only for popular consumption.
comic strip, comic, funnies, graphic novel
1.2A simplified or exaggerated version or interpretation of something: this movie is a cartoon of rural life in America [as modifier]: Dolores becomes a cartoon housewife, reading glossy magazines in a bathrobe
More example sentences
  • He can be viewed as the representative of this cartoon version of the public.
  • We now know it will sacrifice talent and demolish the dignity of a loyal employee for a cartoon version of moral purity.
  • Theirs is a cartoon version of the conflict.
2A motion picture using animation techniques to photograph a sequence of drawings rather than real people or objects.
Example sentences
  • Side views are nullified as the cartoon insistently animates its characters from the front.
  • Many of us have grown up with Disney cartoons and animated films and for some, they were the only kind of entertainment allowed by parents.
  • His initial background as a filmmaker was in cartoons and animation film, and it shows.
animated film, animation
informal toon
3A full-size drawing made by an artist as a preliminary design for a painting or other work of art.
Example sentences
  • His stylish and decorative mythological paintings, tapestry cartoons, and designs for porcelain provided the setting for the lives of the rich and fashionable.
  • The first of its kind in the region, the studio offers a range of artistic services including graphic design, cartoons, murals, logos and illustrations.
  • He also produced tapestry cartoons and designs for theatrical sets and costumes.


[with object]
Make a drawing of (someone) in a simplified or exaggerated way: she has a face with enough character to be cartooned
More example sentences
  • The burgled British householder used to be caricatured coming down his stairway with poker in hand, while the burglar was cartooned as holding nothing more than a jemmy.
  • So I spent an hour or two cartooning it out, and Playboy ran it as-is.
  • Kudelka has been cartooning for The Australian since 1998 and for The Hobart Mercury since 1993.



Example sentences
  • ‘Colin does works that are figures of speech depicted in an absurd and cartoony way,’ Maclean explains.
  • His easy, almost cartoony style leads the reader in effortlessly, every page an open, friendly environment that you instinctively find your way around.
  • Meanwhile, Mabire draws busy cartoony pictures with lots of detail (look for the comical rats).


Late 16th century (sense 3 of the noun): from Italian cartone, from carta, from Latin carta, charta (see card1). sense 1 of the noun dates from the mid 19th century.

  • Lovers of art will know that cartoons were not originally meant to be funny. They were originally full-size drawings made on paper as a design for a painting, fresco, or tapestry. The word seems to have become attached to cartoons in the modern sense in the 19th century, with the first record of its use coming from the magazine Punch in 1843. The word was applied to animated films in the early years of the 20th century. The word is from Italian cartone, literally ‘big card’, from Latin carta or charta, the source of card. Carton (early 19th century) comes from the same source, but arrived in English via French, as does cartridge (late 16th century) both typically made of light cardboard.

Words that rhyme with cartoon

afternoon, attune, autoimmune, baboon, balloon, bassoon, bestrewn, boon, Boone, bridoon, buffoon, Cameroon, Cancún, cardoon, Changchun, cocoon, commune, croon, doubloon, dragoon, dune, festoon, galloon, goon, harpoon, hoon, immune, importune, impugn, Irgun, jejune, June, Kowloon, lagoon, lampoon, loon, macaroon, maroon, monsoon, moon, Muldoon, noon, oppugn, picayune, platoon, poltroon, pontoon, poon, prune, puccoon, raccoon, Rangoon, ratoon, rigadoon, rune, saloon, Saskatoon, Sassoon, Scone, soon, spittoon, spoon, swoon, Troon, tune, tycoon, typhoon, Walloon

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: car·toon

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