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 histrionically (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for histrionic


dramatic, hammy, melodramatic, stagy (or stagey), theatrical (also theatric)



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Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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."

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

Lesser powers can indulge in histrionic grandstanding, clownish antics, outrageous claims and public tantrums. Walter Russell Mead, WSJ, "Donald Trump’s Iran Show," 24 June 2019 Bearded and stocky, Zohar has a lilting baritone and an open, histrionic personality that comes across as charming. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, "The Perverse Logic of GoFundMe Health Care," 24 June 2019 This new approach became known as Regietheater (director’s theater), in which outdated histrionic conventions were swept away to reveal the inner meanings of a work. Martin Filler, The New York Review of Books, "Wagner’s Wonder Woman," 8 Sep. 2018 In fact, the story owes less to magical realism than to histrionic crime dramas. Elizabeth Winkler, New York Times, "From Isabel Allende, a Novel of Three Immigrants and a Brooklyn Misadventure," 19 Jan. 2018 Even shows like Drag Race still operate with certain ideas of what constitutes praiseworthy drag, and their acting challenges often rely on clichéd caricatures of histrionic women using their sexuality and feminine wiles to catfight one another. Daniel Villarreal, Vox, "Drag queens are more political than ever. Can they lead a movement?," 5 Nov. 2018 Especially in comparison to his co-star Chukwudi Iwuji, whose Othello feels mannered and histrionic. Frank Scheck, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Othello': Theater Review," 19 June 2018 His once private desires to win his father's approval now come packaged as angry tweets and memes tearing down his dad's opponents as illogical, histrionic socialists. Julia Ioffe, GQ, "The Real Story of Donald Trump Jr.," 21 June 2018 The story lines are still on the histrionic side: a possibly terminal illness, the sudden appearance of a previously unknown parent, panic attacks and drunken arrests. Mike Hale, New York Times, "Review: ‘The Affair’ Is Back, and Things Are About to Get Crazy. Again.," 14 June 2018

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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Statistics for histrionic

Last Updated

3 Jul 2019

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Time Traveler for histrionic

The first known use of histrionic was in 1648

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English Language Learners Definition of histrionic

disapproving : too emotional or dramatic

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More from Merriam-Webster on histrionic

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with histrionic

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for histrionic

Nglish: Translation of histrionic for Spanish Speakers

Comments on histrionic

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a haphazard or makeshift solution

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