noun \ˈam(p)-fə-ˌthē(-ə)-tər also ˈam-pə-ˌthē-\

: a large building with seats rising in curved rows around an open space on which games and plays take place

: an area of level ground surrounded by hills

Full Definition of AMPHITHEATER

:  an oval or circular building with rising tiers of seats ranged about an open space and used in ancient Rome especially for contests and spectacles
a :  a very large auditorium
b :  a room with a gallery from which doctors and students may observe surgical operations
c :  a rising gallery in a modern theater
d :  a flat or gently sloping area surrounded by abrupt slopes
:  a place of public entertainment (as for games or concerts)
am·phi·the·at·ric \ˌam(p)-fə-thē-ˈa-trik also ˌam-pə-thē-\ or am·phi·the·at·ri·cal \-tri-kəl\ adjective
am·phi·the·at·ri·cal·ly \-tri-k(ə-)lē\ adverb


  1. <the conference attendees crowded into the amphitheater for the keynote address>


Latin amphitheatrum, from Greek amphitheatron, from amphi- + theatron theater
First Known Use: 14th century

Other Performing Arts Terms

diva, dramaturgy, loge, prestidigitation, proscenium, supernumerary, zany


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Freestanding, open-air round or oval structure with a central arena and tiers of concentric seats. The amphitheater originated in ancient Italy (Etruria and Campania) and reflects the entertainment forms popular there, including gladiatorial games and contests of animals with one another or of men with animals. The earliest extant amphitheater is one built at Pompeii (c. 80 BC). Examples survive throughout the former provinces of the Roman empire, the most famous being Rome's Colosseum.


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