grotesque (adj.)

"wildly formed, of irregular proportions, boldly odd," c. 1600s, originally a noun (1560s), from French crotesque (16c., Modern French grotesque), from Italian grottesco, literally "of a cave," from grotta (see grotto). The explanation that the word first was used of paintings found on the walls of Roman ruins revealed by excavation (Italian pittura grottesca) is "intrinsically plausible," according to OED. Originally merely fanciful and fantastic, the sense became pejorative, "clownishly absurd, uncouth," after mid-18c. As the British name for a style of square-cut, sans-serif letter, from 1875. Related: Grotesquely; grotesqueness.

updated on December 08, 2020

Definitions of grotesque from WordNet
grotesque (adj.)
distorted and unnatural in shape or size; abnormal and hideous;
tales of grotesque serpents eight fathoms long that churned the seas
Synonyms: monstrous
grotesque (adj.)
ludicrously odd;
a grotesque reflection in the mirror
Synonyms: antic / fantastic / fantastical
grotesque (n.)
art characterized by an incongruous mixture of parts of humans and animals interwoven with plants;
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.