his·​tri·​on·​ic | \ ˌhi-strē-ˈä-nik How to pronounce histrionic (audio) \

Definition of histrionic

1 : deliberately affected : overly dramatic or emotional : theatrical histrionic gestures a tendency to become histrionic
2 : of or relating to actors, acting, or the theater seeking histrionic perfection

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Other Words from histrionic

histrionically \ ˌhi-​strē-​ˈä-​ni-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce histrionic (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for histrionic



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dramatic, theatrical, histrionic, melodramatic mean having a character or an effect like that of acted plays. dramatic applies to situations in life and literature that stir the imagination and emotions deeply. a dramatic meeting of world leaders theatrical implies a crude appeal through artificiality or exaggeration in gesture or vocal expression. a theatrical oration histrionic applies to tones, gestures, and motions and suggests a deliberate affectation or staginess. a histrionic show of grief melodramatic suggests an exaggerated emotionalism or an inappropriate theatricalism. made a melodramatic plea

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The term "histrionic" developed from "histrio," Latin for actor. Something that is "histrionic" tends to remind one of the high drama of stage and screen and is often stagy and over-the-top. It especially calls to mind the theatrical form known as the "melodrama," where plot and physical action, not characterization, are emphasized. But something that is "histrionic" isn't always overdone; the word might simply refer to an actor or something related to the theater. In that sense, it becomes a synonym of "thespian."

Examples of histrionic in a Sentence

a penchant for dish throwing, door slamming, and other histrionic displays of temper we never tired of his histrionic reenactment of how he found money under the floorboards of a house he was renovating
Recent Examples on the Web While King’s narrative romanticizes the relationship between mental illness and creativity, Larraín’s histrionic direction often reduces these elements to camp. Judy Berman, Time, 4 June 2021 Channeling her lifelong enchantment with animals, Heffernan stages unique situations to anthropomorphize these creatures in playful, sometimes political, often histrionic, narratives. Natasha Gural, Forbes, 29 May 2021 In addition to distracting from the acting, the overblown design magnifies the play’s melodramatic aspects, generating a histrionic atmosphere that a more minimalist production might have largely avoided. Washington Post, 26 Apr. 2021 Occasionally histrionic descriptions of his life and most famous paintings are thus entirely concordant. Washington Post, 31 Mar. 2021 Hence the histrionic headlines announcing Mr. Graham’s about-face atop stories that fail even to mention the about-face of his opponents. Barton Swaim, WSJ, 29 Sep. 2020 The American public embraced the poet, who was known for his colorful suits, overweening energy, and dramatic, almost histrionic performances. Jacob Silverman, The New Republic, 21 Sep. 2020 Opposition to the project, loud and histrionic, has come from a variety of quarters. Hari Kunzru, The New York Review of Books, 8 Sep. 2020 Denis bolted down the stairs in what seemed to me like histrionic distress. Bill Buford, The New Yorker, 6 Apr. 2020

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

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First Known Use of histrionic

1648, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for histrionic

Late Latin histrionicus, from Latin histrion-, histrio actor

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Time Traveler for histrionic

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The first known use of histrionic was in 1648

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Last Updated

15 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Histrionic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/histrionic. Accessed 19 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for histrionic



English Language Learners Definition of histrionic

disapproving : too emotional or dramatic

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Nglish: Translation of histrionic for Spanish Speakers


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