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travesty - vocabulary

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noun

A burlesque of a serious work characterized by grotesque incompatibility of style of the original; a grotesque imitation, as in a travesty of justice.

Note: Though travesty is often used to mean “a gross injustice,” perhaps from the popular saying “a travesty of justice,” it actually means a grotesque imitation. Consider an example from the New York Times. The first example below uses travesty to mean not “grotesque imitation” but “injustice” or “big mistake.” Compare the first not-so-correct example with the second correct example.

1. What was the biggest travesty of the 80th annual Oscars? Did your movie get nominated and then doinked? Or perhaps it never made it to the show? Or maybe a character portrayal left you stapled to your seat, but never gained traction in the awards narrative?

—David Carr “Kvetching Toward Bethlehem” The Carpetbagger Blog New York Times, February 26, 2008

2. Interior design is a travesty of the architectural process and a frightening condemnation of the credulity, helplessness and gullibility of the most formidable consumers—the rich.

—Stephen Bayley “Interiors: Vacuums of Taste” Taste (1991)

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