noun \ˈme-lə-ˌdrä-mə, -ˌdra-\

: drama in which many exciting events happen and the characters have very strong or exaggerated emotions

: a situation or series of events in which people have very strong or exaggerated emotions

Full Definition of MELODRAMA

a :  a work (as a movie or play) characterized by extravagant theatricality and by the predominance of plot and physical action over characterization
b :  the genre of dramatic literature constituted by such works
:  something resembling a melodrama especially in having a sensational or theatrical quality
melo·dra·ma·tist \ˌme-lə-ˈdra-mə-tist, -ˈdrä-\ noun

Examples of MELODRAMA

  1. Critics dismissed his work as melodrama.
  2. an actor with a talent for melodrama
  3. She is starring in another melodrama.
  4. The trial turned into a melodrama.
  5. a life full of melodrama


modification of French mélodrame, from Greek melos song + French drame drama, from Late Latin drama
First Known Use: 1802

Other Performing Arts Terms

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


noun    (Concise Encyclopedia)

Sentimental drama marked by extravagant theatricality, subordination of character development to plot, and focus on sensational incidents. It usually has an improbable plot that features such stock characters as the noble hero, the long-suffering heroine, and the hard-hearted villain, and it ends with virtue triumphing over vice. Written by such playwrights as Guilbert de Pixérécourt and Dion Boucicault, melodramas were popular in Europe and the U.S. during the 19th century. They often featured spectacular events such as shipwrecks, battles, fires, earthquakes, and horse races. Melodrama died out as a theatrical form in the early 20th century but remained popular in silent film. It can still be seen in contemporary film genres such as the action movie.


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