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

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.
Recent Examples on the Web Árboles was focusing on her senior thesis (about Frida Kahlo), hired an agent and was all in on her career goal of becoming a performer. Karin Eldor, Forbes, 15 June 2022 Master’s thesis, University of Manitoba, 2008. Newman, Sara. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, 12 June 2022 Her first book was her PhD thesis, which focused on Hindi writer Munshi Premchand and his role in the formation of the nationalist intelligentsia of the 20th century. Manavi Kapur, Quartz, 27 May 2022 Instagram’s identity crisis is symbolic of investors’ broader thesis change on Meta as a whole. Laura Forman, WSJ, 27 July 2022 The young activist’s feelings about the past and the bravery of Lam and his comrades advances the film’s thesis of what Hong Kong means to its citizens. Richard Kuipers, Variety, 27 July 2022 The Snap Originals Annenberg Inclusion Award will give the winning filmmaker $25,000 for her senior thesis film. Rebecca Sun, The Hollywood Reporter, 14 July 2022 Had Wengrow crossed up his book’s own thesis by failing to question orthodoxies, especially the ones that credit imperial powers like England with all great human achievements? Virginia Heffernan, Wired, 11 July 2022 Several years ago, before this topic gained much attention, one of my students conducted her senior thesis research study on this topic. Bryant Stamford, The Courier-Journal, 7 July 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About thesis

Time Traveler for thesis

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Statistics for thesis

Last Updated

11 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Thesis.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for thesis


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

More from Merriam-Webster on thesis

Nglish: Translation of thesis for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of thesis for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about thesis


Test Your Vocabulary

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!