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)

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
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 The theatrical version of the film was released in November 2017, grossing $658 million worldwide and $228 million in the United States. Anthony Leonardi, Washington Examiner, "HBO Max to release Zack Snyder cut of Justice League," 20 May 2020 Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London — which has continued to stage the Bard’s famous plays, as well as other theatrical performances and tours — may be permanently closed, even after lockdown measures are lifted, CNN reported. Andrea Romano, Travel + Leisure, "London's Globe Theatre May Permanently Close (Video)," 19 May 2020 The temporary rule change will benefit contenders that have had to skip a theatrical release and go straight to streaming. Stephen Humphries, The Christian Science Monitor, "When can I go see a movie? Hollywood and theaters ponder what’s next.," 8 May 2020 Killian’s version of the series for Criterion offers most of the films from the theatrical version and some others as well. Richard Brody, The New Yorker, "What to Stream: An Extraordinary Series on Women Filmmakers Comes to the Criterion Channel," 1 May 2020 Depending on their flair for the theatrical, parents can begin pantomiming life with a new baby before the real one comes home. Elizabeth Greenwood, New York Times, "How to Introduce Pets to Babies," 16 Apr. 2020 Like the theatrical version of Once, which went on to win eight 2012 Tony Awards including best musical and was also scripted by Walsh, this new project has been incubated at New York Theatre Workshop. David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Sing Street': Theater Review," 17 Dec. 2019 Decorator to the stars Billy Baldwin was known for having a flair for the theatrical—as was one of his most famous clients, the onetime Vogue and Harper's Bazaar editor Diana Vreeland. Emma Bazilian, House Beautiful, "Eddie Ross Transforms Iconic Rooms Into Gift Wrap," 5 Dec. 2019 Instead of a theatrical release, Disney will now release Hamilton straight to Disney+ this July 3, just in time for the holiday weekend. TheWeek, "Hamilton performance with the original cast coming to Disney+ this July," 12 May 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun 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 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

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

31 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Theatrical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Jun. 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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