1. An elaborate public dramatic presentation that usually depicts a historical or traditional event.
a. A spectacular procession or celebration, especially one involving costumed performers or contestants.
b. A beauty contest.
3. A usually pompous or ostentatious display or sequence: "[She] looks on at the pageant of make-believe affections: mannered smiles, overblown handshakes" (Michael Lowenthal).
[Middle English pagin, pagent, moveable stage for a mystery play, mystery play, alteration of Medieval Latin pāgina, probably from Latin, page; see pag- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.