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

Example Sentences

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. See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Noun
Axline has lived in the MD-80 for over a decade – after getting divorced on April Fool’s Day in 2011 – and is planning to renovate the DC-8 and equip it with recreational areas such as a movie theater and a music room. Jacopo Prisco, CNN, 2 Feb. 2023 Use Next and Previous buttons to navigate Santikos Entertainment is adding bowling lanes, arcade games and more concessions to its New Braunfels movie theater — changes the San Antonio company has been making at its other locations too. Madison Iszler, San Antonio Express-News, 2 Feb. 2023 It was rescheduled for this year, after Chong officially handed over the ropes to his performance arts theater in New York City, Ping Chong and Company. Melanie Savage, Hartford Courant, 2 Feb. 2023 Rupert experimented with theater and indie films shortly after Harry Potter. Jasmine Washington, Seventeen, 31 Jan. 2023 And last but not least ... As always, Matt Cooper has the Essential Culture Guide for everything worthwhile to see in L.A. right now, including art, music, theater and dance. Los Angeles Times, 28 Jan. 2023 But to see an audience watch the movie in a theater and gasp and applaud was really, really special. Brian Davids, The Hollywood Reporter, 28 Jan. 2023 More often than not, he was restricted to the same old stereotypical roles, despite his theater and improv training. Bethonie Butler, Washington Post, 28 Jan. 2023 After a few smaller theater and TV roles, Criss joined Glee and became a fan favorite as Blaine Anderson. Kate Hogan, Peoplemag, 28 Jan. 2023
Adjective
Your pre-theater meal just got a lot more exciting. Tori Latham, Robb Report, 2 Nov. 2022 Their hours of operation start at the pre-theater time of 5 p.m. and end at 2 a.m. Elise Taylor, Vogue, 29 Aug. 2022 Here are some trusty pre- and post-theater haunts to consider, ranging from most convenient to slightly less convenient, but still worthy. Megha Mcswain, Chron, 24 Aug. 2022 The best place for a pre-or post-theater meal and why. Shivani Vora, Forbes, 19 July 2022 Tell me the best place for a pre-or post-theater meal and why. Shivani Vora, Forbes, 7 Mar. 2022 Loop is The Dearborn restaurant an upscale, yet family-friendly spot for pre-theater dinner. Judy Koutsky, Forbes, 29 Dec. 2021 If anything, these non-theater offshoots confirm the draw of immersion. Manuel Mendoza, Dallas News, 27 Aug. 2021 The proceedings kicked off with a greeting from the designer live from Times Square this morning, followed by pre-recorded trip to Sardi’s, Kors’ favorite pre-theater restaurant, where caricatures of movie stars line the walls. Alison S. Cohn, Harper's BAZAAR, 20 Apr. 2021 See More

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

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 7 Feb. 2023.

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

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

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