Cartoon Definition



a. drawing depicting a humorous situation, often accompanied by a caption.
b. drawing representing current public figures or issues symbolically and often satirically: political cartoon.
2. preliminary sketch similar in size to the work, such as a fresco, that is to be copied from it.
a. usually short, animated movie or television program.
b. An animated character in a movie or television program.
4. comic strip.
5. ridiculously oversimplified or stereotypical representation: criticized the actor’s portrayal of Jefferson as a historically inaccurate cartoon.
v. car·toonedcar·toon·ingcar·toons
To draw a humorous or satirical representation of; caricature.
To make humorous or satirical drawings.

[French cartondrawingfrom Italian cartonepasteboardsee carton.]

car·toon′ishcar·toon′y adj.
car·toon′ist n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
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A cartoon shows a bearded man with a red bow tie holding numerous items. He holds the hat from Dr. Seuss's "The Cat in the Hat" and balances a fishbowl on his left index finger.
Example of a modern cartoon. The text was excerpted by cartoonist Greg Williams from the Wikipedia article on Dr. Seuss.

cartoon is a type of illustration that is typically drawn, sometimes animated, in an unrealistic or semi-realistic style. The specific meaning has evolved over time, but the modern usage usually refers to either: an image or series of images intended for satirecaricature, or humor; or a motion picture that relies on a sequence of illustrations for its animation. Someone who creates cartoons in the first sense is called a cartoonist,[1] and in the second sense they are usually called an animator.

The concept originated in the Middle Ages, and first described a preparatory drawing for a piece of art, such as a painting, frescotapestry, or stained glass window. In the 19th century, beginning in Punch magazine in 1843, cartoon came to refer – ironically at first – to humorous illustrations in magazines and newspapers. Then it also was used for political cartoons and comic strips. When the medium developed, in the early 20th century, it began to refer to animated films which resembled print cartoons.[2]