\ ˈthēm \

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

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Other words from theme

themed \ˈthēmd \ 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.”
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Recent Examples on the Web

Lorne Balfe's sharp re-orchestrations of Lalo Schifrin's original themes nicely further the cause throughout. Todd Mccarthy, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Mission: Impossible — Fallout': Film Review," 12 July 2018 The victory that night bolstered the Yankees’ status as serious World Series contenders, and their win on Thursday carried at least one of the same themes if none of the stakes. New York Times, "A Potential Pitching Showcase Melts Into a Rugged Yankees Win," 12 July 2018 The greenery and lighting was a really important part of the theme. Karen Mizoguchi,, "Josh Abbott Is Married! All the Details from the Country Star and Wife Taylor Parnell's Big Day," 9 July 2018 Just a few of the themes include beauty and style, entrepreneurship and careers, technology, and entertainment and they are enacted with a series of keynotes, workshops, and panels., "Black Women Dominate The Biggest Music Festival of the Year & No One Knows," 6 July 2018 But in another sense, the Interpretive Gallery feels like a good extension of Magritte’s themes. Sophie Haigney,, "SFMOMA’s Magritte Interpretive Gallery lets people play with artist’s work," 3 July 2018 The relative lack of power and resources fits snugly into Mooncrash’s blending of oppressive themes and inventive gameplay. Steven Strom, Ars Technica, "Prey: Mooncrash’s dystopic nightmare hits a little too close to home," 28 June 2018 Everyone makes mistakes, runs one of Mr Bailey’s themes—but black men’s cost more. The Economist, "Some of Issac Bailey’s family have done well. Some have done time," 28 June 2018 In the first 24 hours of the Muslim ban, two of the defining themes of Donald Trump’s presidency emerged: His determination to stamp anti-Muslim bigotry into national policy, and the key roles of the courts and the public in stopping him. Michael Boren,, "N.J. attorney general, others defend Muslims after Supreme Court decision on Trump travel ban," 26 June 2018

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.

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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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Statistics for theme

Last Updated

11 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for theme

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

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More Definitions for theme



English Language Learners Definition of theme

: 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


\ ˈthēm \

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

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