adjective his·tri·on·ic \ˌhi-strē-ˈä-nik\

Definition of histrionic

  1. 1 :  deliberately affected :  overly dramatic or emotional :  theatrical histrionic gestures a tendency to become histrionic

  2. 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

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

First Known Use: 1648

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


adjective his·tri·on·ic \ˌhi-strē-ˈä-nik\

Definition of histrionic for English Language Learners

  • : too emotional or dramatic

Seen and Heard

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


to criticize severely

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