the·​sis | \ ˈthē-səs How to pronounce thesis (audio) , British especially for sense 3 ˈthe-sis \
plural theses\ ˈthē-​ˌsēz How to pronounce theses (audio) \

Definition of thesis

1 : a dissertation embodying results of original research and especially substantiating a specific view especially : one written by a candidate for an academic degree
2a : a proposition to be proved or one advanced without proof : hypothesis
b : a position or proposition that a person (such as a candidate for scholastic honors) advances and offers to maintain by argument
3a(1) : the unstressed part of a poetic foot especially in accentual verse
(2) : the longer part of a poetic foot especially in quantitative verse
b : the accented part of a musical measure : downbeat — compare arsis
4 : the first and least adequate stage of dialectic — compare synthesis

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Did You Know?

In high school, college, or graduate school, students often have to write a thesis on a topic in their major field of study. In many fields, a final thesis is the biggest challenge involved in getting a master's degree, and the same is true for students studying for a Ph.D. (a Ph.D. thesis is often called a dissertation). But a thesis may also be an idea; so in the course of the paper the student may put forth several theses (notice the plural form) and attempt to prove them.

Examples of thesis in a Sentence

She wrote her thesis on Renaissance Nativity scenes. a master's thesis on the effects of global warming New evidence supports his thesis. We disagreed with the basic thesis of the report. The book's central thesis is that propaganda influences the masses in important ways.
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Recent Examples on the Web Given that women make up about 10 percent of national leaders, the presence of Wilmès and Jacobs on the bottom-20 list for this key metric doesn’t support the thesis that women leaders are doing any better (or any worse) than men. Hilda Bastian, Wired, "What the Data Really Says About Women Leaders and the Pandemic," 1 July 2020 Mandela also invoked Edwards’ doctorate thesis on how sports can model resistance and display new values. Scott Ostler,, "If Colin Kaepernick snags Nobel Prize, he’ll reach it by standing on big shoulders," 1 July 2020 My book’s thesis—that valuable lessons across society can be gained by studying small, successful nations—was ignored. Potential... WSJ, "Review Ignored My Book’s Lessons From Small Nations," 24 June 2020 Bolton sees that moment, now iconic, as one more example of the fundamental thesis of his book. Susan Page, USA TODAY, "Exclusive: John Bolton says Trump's White House 'like living inside a pinball machine'," 23 June 2020 Tarleton State graduate student John Palarski is doing his thesis on the project. Dallas News, "A quail proving ground," 20 June 2020 Temple's wrote it as part of her MFA program, eventually building out the novel version for her thesis., "'The Lightness' author Emily Temple grapples with releasing a novel "into two pandemics"," 15 June 2020 Fundamental to the McCone thesis was the claim that peaceful demonstrations produce violent riots, and should therefore be discouraged. Jill Lepore, The New Yorker, "The History of the “Riot” Report," 15 June 2020 In the second year, students shadow training officers, before returning full time for a third year focused on investigations and completing a thesis paper. Graham Kates, CBS News, "Some U.S. police train for just a few weeks, in some countries they train for years," 10 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'thesis.' 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 thesis

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3a(1)

History and Etymology for thesis

in sense 3, Middle English, lowering of the voice, from Late Latin & Greek; Late Latin, from Greek, downbeat, more important part of a foot, literally, act of laying down; in other senses, Latin, from Greek, literally, act of laying down, from tithenai to put, lay down — more at do

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Time Traveler for thesis

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

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Statistics for thesis

Last Updated

5 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Thesis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Jul. 2020.

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More Definitions for thesis


How to pronounce thesis (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of thesis

: a long piece of writing on a particular subject that is done to earn a degree at a university
formal : a statement that someone wants to discuss or prove


the·​sis | \ ˈthē-səs How to pronounce thesis (audio) \
plural theses\ -​ˌsēz \

Kids Definition of thesis

1 : a statement that a person wants to discuss or prove
2 : an essay presenting results of original research

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