Part of speech: adjective
Origin: Spanish, early 19th century
Related to a mischievous character
A type of fiction concerning the adventures of roguish but likeable characters
Examples of Picaresque in a sentence
"His new novel was full of picaresque characters getting into scrapes and always escaping the arm of the law."
"She wants to settle down and start a family, but she’s constantly drawn to picaresque sorts who will never give up a life of adventure."
Popularity Over Time
Picaresque characters have been popping up in literature for hundreds of years. Beloved classics such as "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" and "Pippi Longstocking" detail the exploits of the roguish title characters. For a more modern take on the picaresque novel, add "The Goldfinch" by Donna Tartt and "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" by Hunter S. Thompson to your reading list.
Did you Know?
The Spanish novel "Don Quixote" is an excellent example of picaresque fiction. The word "quixotic," meaning impulsive or unpredictable, was coined in honor of the title character.