\ 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

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Other Words from theme

themed \ ˈthēmd How to pronounce themed (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.”
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Recent Examples on the Web Joey kept her accessories on theme, rocking pastel blue pumps, a teeny blue bag, and blue earrings, and even wore matching eyeshadow. Kara Nesvig, Teen Vogue, "Joey King Wore an All-Blue Outfit and It’s Giving Us Major Cinderella Vibes," 9 Jan. 2020 Who knows which entries here will make it onto high school curriculums, inspire wedding themes, and spawn dozens of Hollywood remakes? Jenny Singer, Glamour, "The Best Books of 2020 (So Far)," 9 Jan. 2020 No surprise, maybe, given the uncontroversial theme: The US needs to prepare workers for the future. Brian Barrett, Wired, "Ivanka Trump's Future of Work Isn't for Workers," 7 Jan. 2020 Safe Harbor – Resonance Ensemble As part of its Programming with Purpose season, the Resonance Ensemble will present music that touches on the theme of immigration and asylum in this concert. oregonlive, "12 classical music concerts to add to your winter calendar," 5 Jan. 2020 The score is minimalist with maximal effect, repetitive and slowly building on themes. Mary Spencer, National Review, "Philip Glass’s Akhnaten Brings Ancient Egyptian Piety to Life," 14 Dec. 2019 Storytellers speak on this theme and then improvisers spin it into comedy gold. Holly Baumbach,, "Things to do in Chicago today | Dec. 9," 9 Dec. 2019 Choose from three holiday jaunts on the railroad, all of which are variations on the same theme of ogling lights and vying for (or avoiding) Santa’s attention. Allyson Reedy, The Know, "6 winter train rides in Colorado to get you in the holiday spirit," 3 Dec. 2019 Tuesday night in the foyer of Kiki's, the former Massachusetts expounded on this theme. Lacrai Mitchell, CBS News, "Deval Patrick charts a moderate path through South Carolina," 27 Nov. 2019

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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Time Traveler for theme

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for theme

Last Updated

16 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Theme.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 21 January 2020.

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More Definitions for theme


How to pronounce theme (audio)

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 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on theme

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for theme

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with theme

Spanish Central: Translation of theme

Nglish: Translation of theme for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of theme for Arabic Speakers

Comments on theme

What made you want to look up theme? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


good-natured easy friendliness

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