Definition of cartoon in English:

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Pronunciation: /kɑːˈtuːn/


1A simple drawing showing the features of its subjects in a humorously exaggerated way, especially a satirical one in a newspaper or magazine: the minister faced a welter of hostile headlines and mocking cartoons
More 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, travesty;
distorted/exaggerated drawing, distortion
informal take-off, send-up, spoof
rare pasquinade
1.1 (also cartoon strip) A narrative sequence of humorous drawings in a comic, magazine, or newspaper, usually with captions: a Peanuts cartoon by Charles Schulz
More example sentences
  • The scope for interesting and humorous plots for each cartoon strip seemed (at the time) to be endless.
  • A one-page cartoon strip which Lennon drew for the Daily Howl, a comic he drew while at school, was expected to fetch £13 - £20,000 but went for £53,400.
  • In the late 1980s he met the Canadian publisher of a little magazine Casual Casual, and the first Jim Bones cartoon strip appeared in print.
comic strip, cartoon strip, comic, graphic novel;
Japanese manga
1.2A simplified or exaggerated version or interpretation of something: [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 film using animation techniques to photograph a sequence of drawings rather than real people or objects: we watched Yogi Bear cartoons on TV [as modifier]: cartoon characters a cartoon show
More 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, animated cartoon, animation;
Japanese anime
3A full-size drawing made by an artist as a preliminary design for a painting or other work of art: the tapestries are based on a set of cartoons commissioned by Pope Leo XI
More 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.
sketch, rough, preliminary drawing, outline, delineation, tracing, artist's impression
technical wireframe, underdrawing, maquette, ébauche, esquisse, croquis


[with object]
1Make 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.
1.1 (as noun cartooning) The activity or occupation of drawing cartoons: he pursued a career in newspaper cartooning
More example sentences
  • To recognise Ramamurthy's contribution to the society and the art of cartooning, the Karnataka Cartoonists Association has proposed a museum of his original cartoons.
  • Described as ‘Escher meets Charles Schulz,’ this is the first in a series that explores the nebulous connection between modern art and cartooning.
  • Those deft at collage, pencil-sketching and cartooning had a great time.



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 (in 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

Line breaks: car|toon

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