A type of comedy developed in Italy in the 16th and 17th centuries and characterized by improvisation from a standard plot outline and the use of stock characters, often in traditional masks and costumes.
A type of Italian comedy developed in the 16th through 18th cent. and employing a stereotyped plot, improvised dialogue, and stock characters such as Pantaloon, Harlequin, and Columbine.
Origin of commedia-dell-arte
- Italian commedia comedy dell'arte of the guild, professional (from arte art, craft, guild)
From American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition