Macabre is a quality of certain artistic or literary works, characterized by a grim or atmosphere. In these works, there is an emphasis on the details and symbols of death. Macabre themes are often preoccupations in the Goth subculture. Themes are usually deliberate.


The etymology of the word "macabre" is uncertain. According to Gaston Paris [Romania, xxiv., 131; 1895.] it first occurs in the form macabre in Jean le Fèvre's "Respit de la mort" (1376), "Je fis de Macabré la danse", and he takes this accented form to be the true one, and traces it in the name of the first painter of the subject. The more usual explanation is based on the Latin name, "Machabaeorum chorea" (Dance of Maccabees). The seven tortured brothers, with their mother and Eleazar [2 Macc;vi., vii.] were prominent figures on this hypothesis in the supposed dramatic dialogues.Other connections have been suggested, as for example with St. Macarius, or Macaire, the hermit, who, according to Vasari, is to be identified with the figure pointing to the decaying corpses in the Pisan "Triumph of Death", or with an Arabic word "maqaber" (مقابر), cemeteries (plural of "maqbara"). Another claim is that the word "Macabre" comes from the two Hebrew words "מן הקבר " (Min Hakever), meaning "from the grave".

ee also

*Memento mori


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  • macabre — [məkä′bərmə käb′rə, mə käb′, məkä′bər] adj. [Fr < OFr ( danse) Macabré, (dance) of death, prob. altered < ML ( Chorea) Machabaeorum, lit., dance of the Maccabees (see MACCABEES): semantic connection obscure] grim and horrible; gruesome;… …   English World dictionary

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