the·at·ri·cal | \thē-ˈa-tri-kəl \
variants: or less commonly theatric \thē-ˈa-trik \

Definition of theatrical 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1 : of or relating to the theater or the presentation of plays a theatrical costume

2 : marked by pretense or artificiality of emotion

3a : histrionic a theatrical gesture

b : marked by extravagant display or exhibitionism



Definition of theatrical (Entry 2 of 2)

1 theatricals plural

a : the performance of plays

b : dramatics

2 British : a professional actor

3 theatricals plural : showy or extravagant gestures

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Other Words from theatrical


theatricalism \thē-ˈa-tri-kə-ˌli-zəm \ noun
theatricality \thē-ˌa-trə-ˈka-lə-tē \ noun
theatrically \thē-ˈa-tri-k(ə-)lē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for theatrical

Synonyms: Adjective

dramatic, histrionic, melodramatic, operatic, stagy (or stagey)

Antonyms: Adjective


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Choose the Right Synonym for theatrical


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

Examples of theatrical in a Sentence


a politician who has a highly theatrical manner of speaking after stepping out of their hired limousine, the prom couple made a theatrical entrance in their evening clothes

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

This legislation would allow for up to $5 million a year in credits to subsidize theatrical productions that are destined for New York or national tours. Jon Chesto,, "House leaders propose tax incentives for Broadway-bound shows," 13 July 2018 Seldom has a theatrical production in Canada proved so polarizing. Dan Bilefsky, New York Times, "A Show About Slaves, With White Actors, Will Go On After Protests," 12 July 2018 The businessman staged a roaring comeback to concert and theatrical productions in 1992 with an arena version of Jesus Christ Superstar, organized with Garry Van Egmond. Lars Brandle, Billboard, "Harry M. Miller, Australian Impresario and Manager, Dies at 84," 5 July 2018 Cole is an audacious young African-American director, much inclined to throw rocks at the theatrical establishment. Chicago Tribune,, "11 recommended shows to see right now," 12 July 2018 The second is a theatrical version of Barbara Ehrenreich’s nonfiction book, Nickeled and Dimed, an undercover sociological study of living and working on the U.S. minimum wage. Nicole Sperling, HWD, "The Filmmaker Who Discovered Jennifer Lawrence Has Found a New Star in Leave No Trace," 26 June 2018 The beloved 2001 movie is inherently theatrical, a colorful, eye-popping extravaganza rife with dazzling costumes, exuberant production numbers, and ingenious pop song mash-ups (including selections from Madonna, Nirvana, T. Rex, and David Bowie). Christopher Wallenberg,, "A new ‘Moulin Rouge!’ for a new Colonial," 5 July 2018 Costumes are theatrical, personalities are tongue in cheek — in no way does this event take itself too seriously. Beth Spotswood, San Francisco Chronicle, "Pro wrestling gets a hold in the city, San Francisco style," 5 June 2018 Lynne received many honors for her decades of theatrical work and was made a dame in 2014. Gregory Katz, The Seattle Times, "Choreographer Gillian Lynne of ‘Cats’ fame dies at age 92," 2 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The Tony Awards are here, and with 10 nominations under its belt and record-breaking box office numbers since its debut in the U.S. on April 22, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child is a theatrical must for Muggles and wizards alike. Kayla Keegan, Good Housekeeping, "Everything You Need to Know About Broadway's 'Harry Potter and the Cursed Child'," 10 June 2018 My wheelhouse is much more magic mystery theatrical based. Nicole Pajer, Billboard, "'Lip Sync Battle Live': Hailee Steinfeld, Laverne Cox, Taraji P. Henson & Neil Patrick Harris Tackle the King of Pop," 19 Jan. 2018 To be able to celebrate last night the span of theatrical with Evan Hansen to electronic with Kraftwerk to alternative and pop with Portugal. Colin Stutz, Billboard, "Atlantic's Julie Greenwald on Celebrating Label's 13 Grammy Wins: 'I Haven't Felt This Way Since College'," 29 Jan. 2018 So much theatrical happens in the piece, verging on aural cartooning, that some in the audience took Baker’s announcement as part of the composition, reacting with chuckles. Alan G. Artner,, "Talea Ensemble opens Contempo series with rare, exceptional program," 28 Oct. 2017 But studios have countered that theatrical has become a larger share of the revenue because of the collapse in DVD sales, one of the people said. Fortune, "This Map Will Show You the World’s Most Expensive Stock Markets," 19 Aug. 2017 There’s a lot of debate with filmmakers over streaming vs. theatrical. Jon Niccum, kansascity, "Thanks, Netflix: Here’s where to find acclaimed movies shot by KC filmmakers," 3 Aug. 2017 Orlando will be the last of three SeaWorld parks to end the theatrical shows, probably late next year. By Marjie Lambert, miamiherald, "Hi-tech, immersive worlds and big franchises highlight Florida theme parks’ evolution," 19 May 2017 But our commitment is to theatrical and big presentations, and so is [Cannes’s]. Rebecca Keegan, HWD, "Does Cannes Still Matter?," 16 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'theatrical.' 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 theatrical


1558, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1683, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

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Last Updated

19 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for theatrical

The first known use of theatrical was in 1558

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More Definitions for theatrical



English Language Learners Definition of theatrical

: of or relating to the theater

: behaving or done in a way that is meant to attract attention and that is often not genuine or sincere


the·at·ri·cal | \thē-ˈa-tri-kəl \

Kids Definition of theatrical

: for or relating to the presentation of plays a theatrical production theatrical costumes

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Comments on theatrical

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


to reject or criticize sharply

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