\ 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 The attack by Usman Khan has become a major theme in the UK election campaign, with both main parties blaming the other for lax sentencing. Paul Cruickshank And Tim Lister, CNN, "Hundreds of former jihadis are set to be freed from jail. London terror attack shows the risks," 1 Dec. 2019 This time, the three main ones offer two related themes—and, in the shape of Brexit, one big elephant in the room. The Economist, "Whoever wins Britain’s election, the state will expand," 30 Nov. 2019 Streams of Consciousness: That’s the theme of the African Biennale of Photography, beginning tomorrow through January 31 in Bamako, Mali. National Geographic, "How did we pick 2019's 100 best photos?," 29 Nov. 2019 While most people in costume embodied a turkey theme, Finksburg resident Lonnie Pryor chose to recycle his pirate Halloween costume. Mary Grace Keller,, "Turkey Trot ditches Styrofoam cups for greener race, draws thousands of runners on blustery Thanksgiving morning," 28 Nov. 2019 The piano took up the theme, adding lacy lines in its high register. New York Times, "A Star Pianist Brings Soft-Spoken Virtuosity to Scriabin," 28 Nov. 2019 That’s been the team’s theme this season, relying on its depth and versatility., "Injuries have forced Celtics coach Brad Stevens to dig deep into his bench for workable combinations. That’s been the team’s theme this season, relying on its depth and versatility.," 26 Nov. 2019 Each protest has its own distinct causes, but a general theme of anger — over a lack of economic opportunity, a high cost of living, and a sense that wealthy and politically powerful elites have forgotten about everyone else — pervades them all. Jim Geraghty, National Review, "Will the Real ‘Decade from Hell’ Please Stand Up?," 26 Nov. 2019 The Hollywood connection is palpable from a subtle Rat Pack theme, including the menu, which offers Jack Daniels’ Sinatra Select at $30 a glass, to ski concierge Ron Blum in the Black Tie Rental shop on the first floor. Jordan Riefe, Orange County Register, "Have a sinfully good time at Heavenly’s winter wonderland," 25 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

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Theme.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 7 December 2019.

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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

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