/ven tril"euh kwiz'euhm/, n.
the art or practice of speaking, with little or no lip movement, in such a manner that the voice does not appear to come from the speaker but from another source, as from a wooden dummy. Also called ventriloquy /ven tril"euh kwee/.
[1790-1800; ventriloqu(y) ( < ML ventriloquium, equiv. to LL ventriloqu(us) a ventriloquist (ventri- VENTRI- + -loquus, deriv. of loqui to speak) + -ium -IUM) + -ISM]

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Art of "throwing" one's voice in such a way that the sound seems to come from a source other than the speaker.

A dummy or doll is commonly used to assist in the deception, with the ventriloquist moving the dummy's mouth while speaking through closed lips. Ventriloquists date from ancient times and include Eurycles of Athens. Such peoples as the Maoris, Zulus, and Eskimos are adept ventriloquists. The art was long a feature of puppet shows as well as of variety entertainment such as vaudeville. Notable ventriloquists included Edgar Bergen in the U.S. and Robert Lamouret in France.

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▪ entertainment arts
      the art of “throwing” the voice, i.e., speaking in such a manner that the sound seems to come from a distance or from a source other than the speaker. At the same time, the voice is disguised (partly by its heightened pitch), adding to the effect. The art of ventriloquism was formerly supposed to result from a peculiar use of the stomach during inhalation—hence the name, from Latin venter and loqui, “belly-speaking.” In fact, the words are formed in the normal manner, but the breath is allowed to escape slowly, the tones being muffled by narrowing the glottis and the mouth being opened as little as possible, while the tongue is retracted and only its tip moves. This pressure on the vocal cords diffuses the sound; the greater the pressure, the greater the illusion of distance.

      A figure, or dummy, is commonly used by the ventriloquist to assist in the deception. The ventriloquist animates the dummy by moving its mouth while his own lips remain still, thereby completing the illusion that the voice is the dummy's, not his. When not using a dummy, the ventriloquist employs pantomime to direct the attention of his listeners to the location or object from which the sound presumably emanates.

      Ventriloquism is of ancient origin. Traces of the art are found in Egyptian and Hebrew archaeology. Eurycles of Athens was the most celebrated of Greek ventriloquists, who were called, after him, eurycleides, as well as engastrimanteis (“belly prophets”). Many peoples are adepts in ventriloquism—e.g., Zulus, Maoris, and Eskimo. The first known ventriloquist as such was Louis Brabant, valet to the French king Francis I in the 16th century. Henry King, called the King's Whisperer, had the same function for the English king Charles I in the first half of the 17th century. The technique was perfected in the 18th century. It is also well known in India and China. In Europe and the United States, ventriloquism holds a place in popular entertainment. Notable ventriloquists have included Edgar Bergen in the United States and Robert Lamouret in France.

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Universalium. 2010.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Ventriloquism — Ven*tril o*quism, n. [See {Ventriloquous}.] The act, art, or practice of speaking in such a manner that the voice appears to come, not from the person speaking, but from some other source, as from the opposite side of the room, from the cellar,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • ventriloquism — 1797, from VENTRILOQUY (Cf. ventriloquy) + ISM (Cf. ism) …   Etymology dictionary

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  • ventriloquism — n. to practice ventriloquism * * * to practice ventriloquism …   Combinatory dictionary

  • ventriloquism — ventriloquist ► NOUN ▪ an entertainer who makes their voice seem to come from a dummy of a person or animal. DERIVATIVES ventriloquial adjective ventriloquism noun ventriloquy noun. ORIGIN from Latin venter belly + loqui speak …   English terms dictionary

  • ventriloquism — noun Etymology: Late Latin ventriloquus ventriloquist, from Latin ventr , venter + loqui to speak; from the belief that the voice is produced from the ventriloquist s stomach Date: circa 1797 1. the production of the voice in such a way that the… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • ventriloquism — noun The art of projecting ones voice without moving the lips so that it appears to come from another source, such as a dummy. Syn: biloquism, ventrilocution …   Wiktionary

  • ventriloquism — (Roget s IV) n. Syn. ventriloquy, gastriloquism, polyphonism; see speech 2 …   English dictionary for students

  • ventriloquism — speaking so that the voice appears to come from elsewhere Styles of Speech …   Phrontistery dictionary

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