dramatis personae

plural noun
dra·​ma·​tis per·​so·​nae | \ ˌdra-mə-təs-pər-ˈsō-(ˌ)nē How to pronounce dramatis personae (audio) , ˌdrä-, -ˌnī \

Definition of dramatis personae

1 : the characters or actors in a drama
2 singular in construction : a list of the characters or actors in a drama
3 : people who figure prominently in something (such as an event)

Examples of dramatis personae in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Zeller is not the first director to jumble his dramatis personae, and to maintain a cool composure in the process. Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, "Anthony Hopkins Rules the Screen in “The Father”," 26 Feb. 2021 The back of each zine includes an index with the species’ names, like a dramatis personae. Ligaya Mishan, New York Times, "Mushrooms, the Last Survivors," 18 Sep. 2020 Even as conspiracy theories play at spider-web vastness, their dramatis personae are as compact as a tag-team match. Robin Sloan, The Atlantic, "The Conspiracy Museum," 14 May 2020 Despite Melle’s deep cuts — including to the dramatis personae — the plot is left pretty intact. New York Times, "Renewing the World (or the Theater, at Least)," 13 Feb. 2020 The book opens with a dramatis personae of sorts — a list of 10 millennials who have had early political success, all of whom Alter has interviewed. Danielle Kurtzleben, Washington Post, "What will America look like when millennials are in charge?," 21 Feb. 2020 Thrilling though the dramatis personae may have been, the protagonist came to a sad end. Peter Nicholas, The Atlantic, "The End of the Golden Era of Chess," 5 Sep. 2019 But can't the dramatis personae at least try to conceal themselves in the hide-and-seek garden scene? Scott Cantrell, Dallas News, "Classic operas 'The Marriage of Figaro' and 'Rigoletto' round out the St. Louis festival," 18 June 2019 Like One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gateway to the Moon begins with a dramatis personae that lays out a family tree. Joe Fassler, The Atlantic, "How Gabriel García Márquez Created a World in a Sentence," 24 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dramatis personae.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of dramatis personae

1730, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dramatis personae

New Latin

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about dramatis personae

Time Traveler for dramatis personae

Time Traveler

The first known use of dramatis personae was in 1730

See more words from the same year

Statistics for dramatis personae

Last Updated

12 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dramatis personae.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dramatis%20personae. Accessed 18 Apr. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for dramatis personae

dramatis personae


English Language Learners Definition of dramatis personae

formal : the characters or actors in a play, movie, etc.

More from Merriam-Webster on dramatis personae

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dramatis personae

Comments on dramatis personae

What made you want to look up dramatis personae? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

The Exceptions Quiz III

  • one green toy robot amidst many red toy robots
  • Which of these words does not mean "nonsense"?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!