\ ˈthēm How to pronounce theme (audio) \

Definition of theme

1a : 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

Other Words from theme

themed \ ˈthēmd How to pronounce theme (audio) \ adjective

Examples of theme in a Sentence

If one theme unites his scholarship it is that the Old South cannot be viewed as a monolith. — Eric Foner, New York Times Book Review, 8 Apr. 2007 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 Mantel, New York Review, 21 Sept. 2006 The Eve of biblical legend was a temptress, thus initiating a lamentable theme in the history of sexism. — Stephen Jay Gould, Discover, July 1992 The quest for power is the underlying theme of the film. A constant theme in his novels is religion. The playwright skillfully brings together various themes. The album focuses on themes of love and loss. Adventures are popular themes in children's books. The growing deficit was a dominant theme in the election. The party had a Hawaiian luau theme. They played the theme from the movie “Rocky.” See More
Recent Examples on the Web This particular group focuses on the spiritual, a common theme for people with voices and visions. New York Times, 17 May 2022 In an interview with Rolling Stone promoting the show, the comedian candidly discussed why death was a common theme in much of his recent work. Kat Bouza, Rolling Stone, 13 May 2022 And one common theme is that traditional office districts may no longer be as central to their downtown cores. Alexander Thompson, The Christian Science Monitor, 2 May 2022 That's been a common theme throughout Bagley's career. Shelby Dermer, The Enquirer, 29 Apr. 2022 Religious freedom is a common theme for addresses by top church leaders — from Dallin H. Oaks, first counselor in the governing First Presidency, to a recent speech by general Primary President Camille Johnson. David Noyce, The Salt Lake Tribune, 28 Apr. 2022 The Triennial highlights current trends in photography and brings together a large number of photo exhibitions under a common theme. Vogue, 27 Apr. 2022 Each chapter takes a simple game or a theme common to many games and follows it through a mix of real-life examples, psychology experiments, hypotheticals and technical analysis. Matthew Hutson, WSJ, 24 Apr. 2022 Leaders across every industry point to a common theme: In the digital world, trust issues are often data issues. Andrew Beers, Forbes, 14 Apr. 2022 See More

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.

First Known Use of theme

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for 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

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Time Traveler for theme

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The first known use of theme was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near theme



theme and variations

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Last Updated

22 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Theme.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for theme


\ ˈthēm How to pronounce theme (audio) \

Kids Definition of theme

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

More from Merriam-Webster on theme

Nglish: Translation of theme for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of theme for Arabic Speakers


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