Meaning of commedia dell'arte

com•me•dia dell'ar•te

Pronunciation: (ku-mā'dē-u del-är'tēIt.kôm-me'dyä del-lär'te), [key]
— pl. com•me•di•a dell'ar•tes, com•me•di•as dell'ar•te, com•me•die dell'ar•te
  1. Italian popular comedy, developed chiefly during the 16th–18th centuries, in which masked entertainers improvised from a plot outline based on themes associated with stock characters and situations.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.