adjective his·tri·on·ic \ ˌhi-strē-ˈä-nik \
|Updated on: 3 Jul 2018

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


play \ˌhi-strē-ˈä-ni-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

histrionic was our Word of the Day on 02/20/2015. Hear the podcast!

Examples of histrionic in a Sentence

  1. a penchant for dish throwing, door slamming, and other histrionic displays of temper

  2. we never tired of his histrionic reenactment of how he found money under the floorboards of a house he was renovating

Recent Examples of histrionic from the Web

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.

Did You Know?

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."

Origin and Etymology of histrionic

Late Latin histrionicus, from Latin histrion-, histrio actor

Synonym Discussion of histrionic

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

Other Performing Arts Terms

HISTRIONIC Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of histrionic for English Language Learners

  • : too emotional or dramatic

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fullness to the point of excess

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