theater

1 of 2

noun

the·​ater ˈthē-ə-tər How to pronounce theater (audio)
ˈthē-tər,
ˈthēə-tər,
 usually in Southern  ˈthē-ˌā-,
also
thē-ˈā- How to pronounce theater (audio)
variants or theatre
1
a
: a building or area for dramatic performances
b
: a building or area for showing motion pictures
c
: an outdoor structure for dramatic performances or spectacles in ancient Greece and Rome
2
a
: dramatic literature : plays
b
: dramatic representation as an art or profession : drama
3
: a place or sphere of enactment of usually significant events or action
the theater of public life
4
a
: a place rising by steps or gradations
a woody theater of stateliest viewJohn Milton
b
: a room often with rising tiers of seats for assemblies (as for lectures or surgical demonstrations)
5
a
: dramatic or theatrical quality or effectiveness
c
: entertainment in the form of a dramatic or diverting situation or series of events
their public feud made for good theater
6

theater

2 of 2

adjective

: of, relating to, or appropriate for use in a theater of operations
theater nuclear weapons

Examples of theater in a Sentence

Noun the oldest theater in the city the theater district in New York City The film is now showing in theaters. We enjoyed a weekend of music, dance, and theater. He was very fond of the theater and had purchased tickets for several performances. Her interests include theater and poetry. the theater of 16th-century England She majored in theater in college. a course in American theater His monologues made for good theater.
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Danny Feldman is experimenting in real time with how to make theater matter again. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 2 June 2024 Summer Shorts, a monthlong live theater festival, returns with eight 10-minute plays. Amanda Rosa, Miami Herald, 1 June 2024
Adjective
My perspective is from a non-theater place. Christopher Arnott, courant.com, 23 June 2021 The rebirth of the Pantages Theatre as a venue for Broadway road shows brought audience members there for pre-theater meals. Linda Deutsch, Los Angeles Times, 25 Mar. 2023 See all Example Sentences for theater 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'theater.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

Middle English teatre, theatre, borrowed from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French thueatre, teatre, borrowed from Latin theātrum "place for viewing dramatic performances," borrowed from Greek théātron, from theā́omai, theâsthai "to gaze at, view, watch, contemplate" (derivative of théā "act of seeing, sight, spectacle, performance," of uncertain origin) + -tron, suffix of instruments

Note: Doric thāéomai and the Syracusan form thāā have led to the assumption of an original *thāwā. Presumably related would be thaûma "wonder, astonishment, object of wonder or admiration, marvel" (see thaumaturge). If táphos "amazement" and synonymous thámbos are related, the alternation [w] / labial stop / -mb- (prenasalized stop?) suggests substratal origin (see R. Beekes, Etymological Dictionary of Greek, Brill, 2009), though the perfect téthēpa "(I) am astonished" reflects complete assimilation into Greek morphology.

Adjective

from attributive use of theater entry 1

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1c

Adjective

1977, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of theater was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near theater

Cite this Entry

“Theater.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/theater. Accessed 14 Jun. 2024.

Kids Definition

theater

noun
the·​ater
variants or theatre
ˈthē-ət-ər,
ˈthi-ət-
1
: a building or area for dramatic performances or for showing movies
2
: a place like a theater
especially : a room often with rising rows of seats (as for a lecture)
3
: a place of significant events or action
a theater of war
4
: plays or the performance of plays
a course in American theater
Etymology

Noun

Middle English theatre "outdoor structure for watching public performances (in ancient Greece and Rome)," from early French theatre (same meaning), from Latin theatrum (same meaning), from Greek theatron, literally "a place for viewing," from theasthai "to view," from thea "action of seeing, sight, view" — related to theory

Medical Definition

theater

noun
the·​ater
variants or theatre
1
: a room often with rising tiers of seats for assemblies (as for lectures or surgical demonstrations)
2
usually theatre, British : a hospital operating room

More from Merriam-Webster on theater

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