AskDefine | Define mime

Dictionary Definition



1 an actor who communicates entirely by gesture and facial expression [syn: mimer, mummer, pantomimer, pantomimist]
2 a performance using gestures and body movements without words [syn: pantomime, dumb show]


1 imitate (a person, a manner, etc.), especially for satirical effect; "The actor mimicked the President very accurately" [syn: mimic]
2 act out without words but with gestures and bodily movements only; "The acting students mimed eating an apple" [syn: pantomime]

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /maɪm/
  • Rhymes with: -aɪm


  1. A classical theatrical entertainment in the form of farce
  2. A performer of such a farce
  3. A person who mimics others in a comical manner
  4. A form of acting without words; pantomime
  5. A pantomime actor

Related terms


form of acting without words


  1. To mimic.
  2. To act without words.

See also



  1. Form of First-person singular present subjunctive, mimer
  2. Form of Third-person singular present subjunctive, mimer
  3. Form of Second-person singular imperative, mimer

Extensive Definition

A mime artist is someone who uses mime as a theatrical medium or as a performance art, involving the acting out of a story by a mime artist through body motions, without use of speech. In earlier times, in English, such a performer was referred to as a mummer. Miming is to be distinguished from silent comedy, in which the artist is a seamless character in a film or sketch.


The performance of pantomime originates at its earliest in ancient Greece; the name is taken from a single masked dancer called Pantomimus, although performances were not necessarily silent. In Medieval Europe, early forms of mime such as mummer plays and later dumbshows evolved. In early nineteenth century Paris, Jean-Gaspard Deburau solidified the many attributes that we have come to know in modern times — the silent figure in whiteface.
Marcel Marceau was perhaps the most well-known modern mime.

In film

Prior to the work of Etienne Decroux there was no major treatise on the art of mime, and so any recreation of mime as performed prior to the twentieth century is largely conjecture, based on interpretation of diverse sources. However, the twentieth century also brought a new medium into widespread usage: the motion picture.
The restrictions of early motion picture technology meant that stories had to be told with minimal dialogue which was largely restricted to intertitles. This often demanded a highly stylized form of physical acting largely derived from the stage. Thus, mime played an important role in films prior to advent of talkies (films with sound or speech). The mimetic style of film acting was used to great effect in German Expressionism film.
Silent film comedians like Charles Chaplin, Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton learned the craft of mime in the theatre but through film had a profound influence on mimes who work in live theatre even decades after their death. Indeed, Chaplin may be the best documented mime in history.
The famous French comedian, writer and director Jacques Tati achieved his initial popularity working as a mime, and indeed his later films had only minimal dialogue, relying instead on many subtle expertly choreographed visual gags. Tati, like Chaplin before him, would mime out the movements of every single character in his films and ask his actors to repeat them.
Another French actor who began his career as a mime was Jean-Louis Barrault. In the film Les Enfants du Paradis he portrayed the famous 19th century mime Jean-Gaspard Deburau.

In non-Western theatre traditions

While most of this article has treated mime as a constellation of related and historically linked Western theatre genres and performance techniques, analogous performances are evident in the theatrical traditions of other civilizations.
Classical Indian musical theatre, although often erroneously labeled a "dance," is a group of theatrical forms in which the performer presents a narrative via stylized gesture, an array of hand positions, and mime illusions to play different characters, actions, and landscapes. Recitation, music, and even percussive footwork sometimes accompany the performance. The Natya Shastra, an ancient treatise on theatre by Bharata Muni, mentions silent performance, or mukhabinaya.

External links

mime in Bosnian: Pantomima
mime in Bulgarian: Пантомима
mime in Catalan: Mim
mime in Czech: Pantomima
mime in German: Pantomime
mime in Spanish: Pantomima
mime in Esperanto: Pantomimo
mime in Persian: پانتومیم
mime in French: Mime
mime in Croatian: Pantomima
mime in Indonesian: Pantomim
mime in Italian: Mimo latino
mime in Hebrew: פנטומימה
mime in Hungarian: Pantomim
mime in Dutch: Pantomime
mime in Japanese: パントマイム
mime in Norwegian: Pantomime
mime in Polish: Pantomima
mime in Portuguese: Pantomima
mime in Russian: Пантомима
mime in Simple English: Mime
mime in Serbo-Croatian: Mim
mime in Finnish: Pantomiimi
mime in Swedish: Pantomim
mime in Ukrainian: Міми

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Roscius, Thalia, act, act a part, act as, act as foil, act out, actor, actress, antagonist, ape, appear, arlequinade, bad guy, barnstorm, barnstormer, beckon, black comedy, broad comedy, burlesque, burletta, camp, character, character actor, character man, character woman, child actor, come out, comedie bouffe, comedie larmoyante, comedie rosse, comedietta, comedy, comedy ballet, comedy of humors, comedy of ideas, comedy of intrigue, comedy of manners, comedy of situation, comedy relief, comic muse, comic opera, comic relief, conformist, copier, copy, copycat, copyist, counterfeiter, cuckoo, dark comedy, diseur, diseuse, dissembler, dissimulator, do, domestic comedy, dramatizer, echo, echoer, echoist, emote, emotionalize, enact, exode, faker, farce, farce comedy, feeder, foil, forger, genteel comedy, gesticulate, gesture, get top billing, harlequinade, heavy, high camp, histrio, histrion, hit off, hit off on, hypocrite, imitator, impersonate, impersonator, impostor, ingenue, juvenile, light comedy, low camp, low comedy, masquerade as, matinee idol, mimer, mimic, mimicker, mock, mocker, mockingbird, monkey, monologist, motion, motion to, mummer, musical, musical comedy, opera buffa, pantomime, pantomimist, parrot, pass for, patter, perform, personate, phony, plagiarist, play, play a part, play the lead, playact, playactor, player, poll-parrot, polly, polly-parrot, pose as, poseur, pretend to be, protean actor, raw comedy, realistic comedy, reciter, register, romantic comedy, satyr play, saw the air, sentimental comedy, sheep, shrug, shrug the shoulders, simulator, situation comedy, sketch, slapstick, slapstick comedy, soubrette, stage performer, stage player, star, steal the show, stooge, straight man, stroller, strolling player, take off, take off on, theatrical, thespian, tragicomedy, tread the boards, troupe, trouper, upstage, utility man, villain, wave the arms
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