caricature (It. caricare, load or surcharge) Painting or drawing in which a person is presented in a comic, often ridiculous, light by distorting their features. Caricature may be used to interpret the character of a person, event or age. The genre first appeared in the late 16th century. Hogarth attempted to distinguish between depicting character and comic likeness, but the two traditions merged. In the 20th century, many popular graphic artists have combined caricature with social and political satire, and today most political cartoons are caricatures.