1. an elaborate public spectacle illustrative of the history of a place, institution, or the like, often given in dramatic form or as a procession of colorful floats.
  2. a costumed procession, masque, allegorical tableau, or the like forming part of public or social festivities.
  3. a show or exhibition, especially one consisting of a succession of participants or events: a beauty pageant.
  4. something comparable to a procession in colorful variety, splendor, or grandeur: the pageant of Renaissance history.
  5. a pretentious display or show that conceals a lack of real importance or meaning.
  6. (in medieval times) a platform or stage, usually moving on wheels, on which scenes from mystery plays were presented.
  7. display or pageantry.
  8. Obsolete. a stage bearing any kind of spectacle.


  1. an elaborate colourful parade or display portraying scenes from history, esp one involving rich costume
  2. any magnificent or showy display, procession, etc

n.late 14c., “play in a cycle of mystery plays,” from Medieval Latin pagina, of uncertain origin, perhaps from Latin pagina “page of a book” (see page (n.1)) on notion of “manuscript” of a play. But an early sense in Middle English also was “stage or scene of a play” (late 14c.) and Klein says a sense of Latin pagina was “movable scaffold” (probably from the etymological sense of “stake”). With excrescent -t as in ancient (adj.). Generalized sense of “showy parade, spectacle” is first attested 1805, though this notion is found in pageantry (1650s).

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