the·​sis | \ ˈthē-səs How to pronounce thesis (audio) , British especially for sense 3 ˈthe-sis \
plural theses\ ˈthē-​ˌsēz How to pronounce thesis (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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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 The first significant effort to investigate it was Brigham’s graduate thesis, in 1956. Michael Scott Moore, The New Yorker, 27 May 2021 And isn't that just the thesis for this entire franchise, hidden right here in season 11 of RHOBH? Jodi Walker,, 20 May 2021 In a way, this moment is a thesis for Shrill's third and final season: Progress, especially toward one's self-image, isn't linear. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, 7 May 2021 The 25-year-old was working on her thesis for graduate school in Mankato, Minn., when her dad died from Covid-19 last spring. Francesca Fontana, WSJ, 1 May 2021 Many will bristle at this claim, but no one can argue with the history that Hinton details in support of her thesis. Washington Post, 28 May 2021 The goal of my thesis is to investigate an in vivo model of a premature aging disorder. Alex Zhavoronkov, Forbes, 24 May 2021 The history of Indian media in Ghana—the subject of my PhD thesis as well as a recent academic paper—extends back to the mid-1950s. Katie Young, Quartz, 20 Mar. 2021 Inspired by this, as part of his thesis Matthews studied the urban settings in which Black people in Watts were often photographed by the news media. Los Angeles Times, 18 Mar. 2021

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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Last Updated

12 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Thesis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 20 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for thesis



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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