noun \ ˈthēm \
|Updated on: 14 Aug 2018

Definition of theme

1 a : a subject or topic of discourse or of artistic representation
  • guilt and punishment is the theme of the story
b : a specific and distinctive quality, characteristic, or concern
  • the campaign has lacked a theme
2 : a melodic subject of a musical composition or movement
3 : a written exercise : composition
  • a research theme
4 : stem 4


play \ˈthēmd\ adjective

Examples of theme in a Sentence

  1. If one theme unites his scholarship it is that the Old South cannot be viewed as a monolith. —Eric FonerNew York Times Book Review8 Apr. 2007
  2. One reiterated theme of his book is that the electoral process can be the most dangerous of delusions, tending to confer a spurious legitimacy on those most willing to corrupt it. —Hilary MantelNew York Review21 Sept. 2006
  3. The Eve of biblical legend was a temptress, thus initiating a lamentable theme in the history of sexism. —Stephen Jay GouldDiscoverJuly 1992
  4. The quest for power is the underlying theme of the film.

  5. A constant theme in his novels is religion.

  6. The playwright skillfully brings together various themes.

  7. The album focuses on themes of love and loss.

  8. Adventures are popular themes in children's books.

  9. The growing deficit was a dominant theme in the election.

  10. The party had a Hawaiian luau theme.

  11. They played the theme from the movie “Rocky.”

Recent Examples of theme from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of theme

Middle English teme, theme, from Anglo-French & Latin; Anglo-French, from Latin thema, from Greek, literally, something laid down, from tithenai to place — more at do

THEME Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of theme for English Language Learners

  • : the main subject that is being discussed or described in a piece of writing, a movie, etc.

  • : a particular subject or issue that is discussed often or repeatedly

  • : the particular subject or idea on which the style of something (such as a party or room) is based

THEME Defined for Kids


noun \ ˈthēm \

Definition of theme for Students

1 : a subject of a work of art, music, or literature
2 : a specific quality, characteristic, or concern
  • The room is decorated in a tropical theme.
3 : a written exercise : essay

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