grotesque |ɡrōˈtesk| adjective

  • Comically or repulsively ugly or distorted: grotesque facial distortions.
  • Incongruous or inappropriate to a shocking degree: a lifestyle of grotesque luxury.


  • A very ugly or comically distorted figure, creature, or image: the rods are carved in the form of a series of gargoyle faces and grotesques.
  • (the grotesque) that which is grotesque: images of the macabre and the grotesque. 
  • A style of decorative painting or sculpture consisting of the interweaving of human and animal forms with flowers and foliage.

ORIGIN mid 16th century (as noun): from French grotesque (the earliest form in English), from Italian grottesca, from opera or pittura grottesca work or painting resembling that found in a grotto; “grotto” here probably denoted the rooms of ancient buildings in Rome that had been revealed by excavations and contained murals in the grotesque style.

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