From Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search
See also: Carnival


Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle French carnaval, from Italian carnevale, possibly from the Latin phrase carnem levāmen (meat dismissal). Other scholars suggest Latin carnuālia (meat-based country feast) or carrus nāvālis (boat wagon; float) instead.[1] Doublet of carnaval.



carnival (plural carnivals)

  1. Any of a number of festivals held just before the beginning of Lent.
    Carnival of Brazil
    Venice Carnival
  2. A festive occasion marked by parades and sometimes special foods and other entertainment.
    • 2013 June 7, David Simpson, “Fantasy of navigation”, in The Guardian Weekly, volume 188, number 26, page 36:
      Like most human activities, ballooning has sponsored heroes and hucksters and a good deal in between. For every dedicated scientist patiently recording atmospheric pressure and wind speed while shivering at high altitudes, there is a carnival barker with a bevy of pretty girls willing to dangle from a basket or parachute down to earth.
  3. (US) A traveling amusement park, called a funfair in British English.
    We all got to ride the merry-go-round when they brought their carnival to town.
    When the carnival came to town, every one wanted some cotton candy.
  4. (sociology) A context in which transgression or inversion of the social order is given temporary license. Derived from the work of Mikhail Bakhtin.
    • 2010, Gulnara Karimova, “Jackass, South Park, and 'Everyday' Culture”, in Studies in Popular Culture, volume 33, page 37:
      The social environment contains the ambiguous traces of carnival: it resists the ideology of capitalism and, at the same time, reproduces the capitalist social order.
  5. (figurative) A gaudily chaotic situation.
    a carnival of idiocy

Coordinate terms[edit]

Derived terms[edit]


  • Japanese: カーニバル



  1. ^ Ottorino Pianigiani (1907) “Carnevale, Carnovale”, in Il Vocabolario Etimologico[1] (in Italian), archived from the original on 2018-09-18

Further reading[edit]