the·​at·​ri·​cal | \ thē-ˈa-tri-kəl How to pronounce theatrical (audio) \
variants: or less commonly theatric \ thē-​ˈa-​trik How to pronounce theatric (audio) \

Definition of theatrical

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of or relating to the theater or the presentation of plays a theatrical costume a theatrical troupe a powerful theatrical performance
b : of, relating to, or occurring in a movie theater the theatrical release of a new film "Give Me Liberty," the Milwaukee-made movie that received good notices at this year's Sundance Film Festival and the Cannes Film Festival, will come home for its U.S. theatrical premiere, Aug. 22 at the Oriental Theatre.— Chris Foran
2 : having qualities suggestive of a stage play or of an actor's performance : deliberately or exaggeratedly dramatic or emotional : histrionic a theatrical gesture a theatrical way of speaking … pulls an enormous handkerchief from the inside breast pocket of his jacket and opens it with a theatrical flourish …— Robert Little



Definition of theatrical (Entry 2 of 2)

1 theatricals plural
a : the performance of plays
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 How to pronounce theatricalism (audio) \ noun
theatricality \ thē-​ˌa-​trə-​ˈka-​lə-​tē How to pronounce theatricality (audio) \ noun
theatrically \ thē-​ˈa-​tri-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce theatrically (audio) \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for theatrical

Synonyms: Adjective

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

Adjective 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 Nomadland is set for theatrical release on Dec. 4 via Searchlight Pictures. Joey Nolfi,, "Nomadland storms Oscar race with TIFF People's Choice Award win," 20 Sep. 2020 And coming soon on VOD: documentary House of Cardin, which already came out at select theaters and via virtual theatrical release, will officially be available on demand Sept. 15. Radhika Marya, Fortune, "What to watch this weekend on Netflix, HBO, and more," 11 Sep. 2020 Christopher Nolan’s Tenet has been testing the waters in recent weeks, and as fall wears on one can only hope that plans for a big theatrical release of Dune could be possible. Angela Watercutter, Wired, "The First Dune Trailer Makes Some Epic Promises," 9 Sep. 2020 Disney initially planned on a theatrical release in March, and now, over five months later, Mulan is finally available to stream on Disney+. Lydia Wang,, "You Have Questions About The Mulan On Disney+ Situation. We’ve Got Answers," 7 Sep. 2020 Mulan, meanwhile, debuted on Disney+ on Friday for $30 after Disney skipped a U.S. theatrical release due to the pandemic. Tim O'donnell, TheWeek, "10 things you need to know today: September 5, 2020," 5 Sep. 2020 The movie was released to Disney+ subscribers on Friday after months of delaying a theatrical release because of the coronavirus pandemic. Spencer Neale, Washington Examiner, "Pro-democracy activists boycott Mulan release following actress's support of Hong Kong police," 4 Sep. 2020 Dark Fate actress, 33, are starring in Happiest Season, a theatrical Christmas rom-com release that features a lesbian love story. Gillian Telling,, "First Look! See Kristen Stewart in Happiest Season, the Upcoming Gay Christmas Rom-Com," 2 Sep. 2020 But amid all the jockeying, Nolan — who has fought long and hard for the preservation of the theatrical experience — has held his ground. Ann Hornaday, Washington Post, "This is not a ‘Tenet’ review. (Here’s why.)," 1 Sep. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Platforma, which staged modern theatrical, dance and musical productions, was an outlet for innovative young artists and directors and was popular among Moscow’s hip young crowd. Robyn Dixon, Washington Post, "Renowned Russian director convicted of embezzlement in what critics call a show trial," 26 June 2020 The cancellation of theatrical runs, musical tours, comedy shows, club nights, film screenings, book launches, and political fund-raisers quickly followed. Emily Witt, The New Yorker, "Performing Artists and the Financial Fallout of the Coronavirus," 22 Mar. 2020 The old-school theatrical cuts hit LaserDisc and DVD, but the official stance going forward seems to honor Lucas’ final revisions. Darren Franich,, "Star Wars rewatch: A New Hope lets the old things die," 23 Oct. 2019 Because the company pushes for shorter theatrical runs, big theater chains like AMC and Cinemark won't show it. Wired, "Joker Just Broke a Big Box Office Record," 7 Oct. 2019 California becomes the first state to ban the breeding of killer whales and the use of them in theatrical shows. San Diego Union-Tribune, "SeaWorld: a decade of turbulence and triumphs," 22 June 2019 The criticisms are not unlike the kind of sharp verbal attacks PETA has leveled at SeaWorld over the years about the parks’ captive orcas and their participation in theatrical shows. Sam Hodgson/the San Diego Union-tribune, San Diego Union-Tribune, "PETA’s latest demand: End ‘circus-style’ dolphin shows at SeaWorld," 5 June 2019 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

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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Time Traveler for theatrical

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The first known use of theatrical was in 1558

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Statistics for theatrical

Last Updated

24 Sep 2020

Cite this Entry

“Theatrical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Sep. 2020.

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More Definitions for theatrical


How to pronounce theatrical (audio)

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 How to pronounce theatrical (audio) \

Kids Definition of theatrical

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

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