play·​bill | \ ˈplā-ˌbil How to pronounce playbill (audio) \

Definition of playbill

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a bill (see bill entry 4 sense 5a) advertising a public performance or set of performances A playbill—an early poster—advertising Shakespeare's Hamlet at Newcastle's original Theatre Royal in Mosley Street in December 1791 was discovered among prints bought in an auction sale …— Evening Chronicle So the two began plastering up playbills and cultivating a badboy image.— Logan Hill



Definition of Playbill (Entry 2 of 2)

used for a theater program (see program entry 1 sense 2a)

Examples of playbill in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Myriad of space connections Recapping the history of CCCT for an upcoming playbill, Meek wrote about theater leaders such as Jane Conrad, wife of astronaut Pete Conrad, the third man to walk on the moon. Don Maines, Houston Chronicle, "Theater’s NASA memories mix musicals and moonwalkers," 16 July 2019 In the Morgan exhibit, playbills from early productions identify the nameless creature with only dashes—a gimmick that met with Shelley’s approval. Brenda Cronin, WSJ, "The Making of a Monster," 27 Sep. 2018 An eclectic menu that spotlights California’s agricultural bounty is on the playbill too. New York Times, "36 Hours in Napa Valley," 21 June 2018 The playbill guarantees at least three additional acts, plenty of time leftover for more fun and games. Alex Prewitt,, "Golden Knights, Capitals Provide Game 1 Cup Final Spectacle Fitting for Vegas," 29 May 2018 Judging by Guadalupe's description of it, and the show's playbill information, the company's new evening-length story ballet is completely out of the ordinary. Zachary Lewis,, "Cleveland Ballet venturing 'out of the box' with new 'Alice' (preview)," 7 May 2018 That's not a playbill likely to put the historic Flagstar Strand, or for that matter downtown Pontiac itself, back on the mental maps of Oakland County’s affluent, concert-hungry residents. Bill Laitner, Detroit Free Press, "Pride, history, tax dollars at stake in renovation of Pontiac theater," 6 May 2018 Well, no yellowface here, as the surnames in the playbill — Lim, Panmeechao, Oh, Ozeki — attest. Kerry Lengel, azcentral, "Theater review: Do Asian actors make ‘The King and I’ more ‘authentic’ at ASU Gammage?," 21 Mar. 2018 Here’s a playbill credit one doesn’t see often: Pie consultant. Lauren Delgado,, "'Waitress' pie consultant will make some sweet visuals for Dr. Phillips performance," 17 Mar. 2018

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

See More

First Known Use of playbill


1610, in the meaning defined above

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about playbill

Statistics for playbill

Last Updated

14 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for playbill

The first known use of playbill was in 1610

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for playbill



English Language Learners Definition of playbill

: a poster or piece of paper that advertises a play

More from Merriam-Webster on playbill

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with playbill

Comments on playbill

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


to make a temporary encampment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!