melo·​dra·​ma ˈme-lə-ˌdrä-mə How to pronounce melodrama (audio)
: a work (such as a movie or play) characterized by extravagant theatricality and by the predominance of plot and physical action over characterization
an actor with a flair for melodrama
: the genre (see genre sense 1) of dramatic literature constituted by such works
: something resembling a melodrama especially in having a sensational or theatrical quality
The trial turned into a melodrama.
melodramatist noun

Example Sentences

Critics dismissed his work as melodrama. an actor with a talent for melodrama She is starring in another melodrama. The trial turned into a melodrama. a life full of melodrama
Recent Examples on the Web Even Carlson appears settled into his role as hypeman for the low-stakes melodrama. Emily Heil, Washington Post, 23 Jan. 2023 This new Walker series often relegates the crimefighting to the B-plot, while the family melodrama gets the spotlight. Noel Murray, Chron, 11 Jan. 2023 Moehringer, at least, knows this, even if Harry may hope that his own royal plot will swerve unexpectedly from implacable tragedy to restitutive melodrama. Rebecca Mead, The New Yorker, 13 Jan. 2023 The Rehearsal is a meta-documentary and melodrama and meditation on the extremely human desire to control the uncontrollable. Megan Garber, The Atlantic, 21 Dec. 2022 Otherwise, her mission has been to keep digging for layers of character within each line and each song, with a lot of generosity, no judgment and as little melodrama and sentimentality as possible. Ben Brantley, New York Times, 8 Dec. 2022 Resisting treacly melodrama, Hansen-Løve tells this elemental story of loss and rebirth with graceful restraint, respecting her characters (and her audience) too much to resort to manipulative gimmicks. Tim Grierson, Los Angeles Times, 3 Jan. 2023 The underlying material is part of it: a progressive-minded allegory is better than a regressive-minded racial melodrama. Adam Gopnik, The New Yorker, 28 Nov. 2022 She is known for her transcendent performance in Trey Edward Shults’s indie melodrama Waves, which earned the actor a Gotham Award. Vulture, 16 Nov. 2022 See More

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

Word History


modification of French mélodrame, from Greek melos song + French drame drama, from Late Latin drama

First Known Use

1802, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of melodrama was in 1802

Dictionary Entries Near melodrama

Cite this Entry

“Melodrama.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


melo·​dra·​ma ˈmel-ə-ˌdräm-ə How to pronounce melodrama (audio)
: a work (as a movie or play) marked by the exaggerated emotions of the characters and the importance of action and plot
: such works as a group
: melodramatic events or behavior
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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