October 23, 2011
pantomime (noun)
\PAN-tuh-myme\ Hear it!
What does it mean?
1 a : a performance in which a story is told by expressive movements of the body or face b : an actor or dancer in such a performance2 : expression of information by movements of the body or face
How do you use it?
The storyteller's partner performed a corresponding pantomime, complete with costumes and a few props.
Are you a word wiz?

What do you think the word "pantomime" referred to when it first came into English?

While the word "pantomime" does not go all the way back to the Roman Empire, we can trace it back to the 1500s when it was first used to refer to a particular kind of Roman play, or a performer in such a play. This type of play featured a solo dancer on stage with an accompanying chorus that either spoke or sang the words of the story. The dancer's movements interpreted the action. Over the years, the word "pantomime" was used of several very expressive ways to convey information, some of them silent and some of them not. Nowadays, however, we associate "pantomime" with stories told through action only.
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