his·​tri·​on·​ic | \ˌhi-strē-ˈä-nik \

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 \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for histrionic


dramatic, melodramatic, operatic, 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

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 The two-time Oscar-winning actress took a 23-year detour into politics, and clearly her blistering broadsides as a member of Parliament against the Conservative opposition have kept her histrionic powers sharp within a certain range. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "Glenda Jackson steals the show in a thrilling, emotionally affecting 'Three Tall Women' on Broadway," 30 Mar. 2018 Bruce Cabot, while not astonishing in his histrionic ability, does ably as the hero. Thr Staff, The Hollywood Reporter, "'King Kong': THR's 1933 Review," 2 Mar. 2018 Optical surface effects rather than a sculptural topography articulating internal anatomic structure likewise characterize Rodin’s histrionic attempts to redefine Michelangelo’s sculptural terribilità. Catesby Leigh, National Review, "A Genius in Draft Form," 20 Jan. 2018 Tony hires a prominent Christian lawyer (the wonderfully histrionic Camille Salameh), while Yasser is represented by a woman (Diamand Bou Abboud) who turns out to be — spoiler alert! Metaphor alert! — the opposing counsel’s daughter. A.o. Scott, New York Times, "Review: In ‘The Insult,’ the Dispute Is Personal. And Political.," 10 Jan. 2018 Twitter reportedly purchased the service for $30 million in 2012 and shut it down in January, leading to histrionic responses from fans. Nick Vadala, Philly.com, "Temple couple's Vine-based parody of 'Milk and Honey' becomes Amazon best seller," 26 Dec. 2017

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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Last Updated

6 Nov 2018

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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

: too emotional or dramatic

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Comments on histrionic

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


to express warning or disapproval

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