carnival

Definitions

General English

Media Studies

  • noun the idea of an ‘escape from reality’, in which people temporarily ignore the restrictions society normally imposes on them and enjoy excess in all its forms for a short period

Theater

  • The season immediately preceding Lent that ends on Shrove Tuesday;in Roman Catholic countries it is traditionally marked by street partiesand other amusements. The word probably derives from the Latin carnis, flesh and levare, to remove, referring to the custom of abstaining from meat during Lent. A rival etymology links the term with latin vale,farewell ('farewell to flesh').

    In some cities the celebrations involved theatrical and acrobaticdisplays and the wearing of elaborate masks and costumes. Byron describedthe spectacular Venetian carnival in Beppo:

    And there are dresses splendid, but fantastical,
    Masks of all times and nations, Turks and Jews,
    And harlequins and clowns, with feats gymnastical...
    see also Fastnachtsspeil.

Origin & History of “carnival”

Etymologically, carnival means ‘raising flesh’ – that is, the ‘removal of meat’ from the diet during Lent (carnival was originally a period of merrymaking preceding Lent). It comes from medieval Latin carnelevāmen, a compound noun made up of carō ‘flesh’ (source of English carnal) and levāmen, a derivative of the verb levāre ‘lighten, raise’ (source of English lever, levity, and levy).
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