thes·​pi·​an | \ ˈthe-spē-ən How to pronounce thespian (audio) \

Definition of thespian

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: actor



Definition of thespian (Entry 2 of 2)

1 often capitalized [ from the tradition that Thespis was the originator of the actor's role ] : relating to the drama : dramatic
2 capitalized : of or relating to Thespis

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Synonyms & Antonyms for thespian

Synonyms: Noun

actor, impersonator, mummer, player, thesp, trouper

Antonyms: Noun


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Did You Know?

Greek drama was originally entirely performed by choruses. According to tradition, the Greek dramatist Thespis, of the 6th century B.C., was the inventor of tragedy and the first to write roles for the individual actor as distinct from the chorus, and the actor's exchanges with the chorus were the first dramatic dialogue. Since Thespis himself performed the individual parts in his own plays, he was also the first true actor. Ever since choruses disappeared from drama, thespians have filled all the roles in plays. Thespian is also an adjective; thus, we can speak of "thespian ambitions" and "thespian traditions", for example.

Examples of thespian in a Sentence


a renowned thespian and director although she's “acted” in a couple of horror movies, I'd hardly call her one of our more promising thespians

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

O’Toole plays Maurice, who’s spending the waning days of his life reminiscing about the glory days of British stage and cinema with his fellow aged thespians. Noel Murray, The Verge, "This weekend, stream Venus, the breakthrough film for Doctor Who’s Thirteenth Doctor," 5 Oct. 2018 The medleys of leading actor and leading actress nominees - always a highlight of the Tommy Tune Awards - was RJ Munguia's favorite part of last year's annual Tony Awards-style ceremony that honors Houston-area high school thespians. Don Maines, Houston Chronicle, "Pearland teen to reprise role as tiny tyrant at Tune Awards," 8 Apr. 2018 Ultimately, the main challenge, for those who want to helm and act, thespians say, is timing. Katie Kilkenny, The Hollywood Reporter, "How Actors Become Directors: "It's Like the Greatest Film School Ever"," 11 June 2018 Like a master thespian, no two of Neymar’s performances are exactly alike. Andrew Beaton, WSJ, "The Analytics of Neymar’s Flopping," 5 July 2018 Yes, this is the work of an amatuer thespian, the football-equivalent of a stagey death scene that never ends. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "The Annoying Genius Who Makes the World Cup Worth Watching," 5 July 2018 The handwringing over these athletic thespians is all too familiar for fans of soccer. Umair Irfan, Vox, "Why soccer players take dives," 21 June 2018 One such holdout was David Wark Griffith, a frustrated thespian who, like Hobart Bosworth, had never dreamed of taking a job in anything so disgraceful as a movie. Longreads, "When the Movies Went West," 15 May 2018 Manino -- who spent much of her trainer career in Meraux before moving to Covington following Hurricane Katrina -- has had her dog thespians featured in many commercials and movies. Kara Martinez Bachman,, "Broadway-bound Donna Summer musical to portray Covington author, celebrity publicist Brian Edwards," 31 Jan. 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

But most outstanding was the performance delivered by Eaddy Kiernan, whose thespian skills rival those of her actual day job as the magazine’s Special Events Director. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "All the Stars Turned Out for the World Premiere of Ocean’s 8," 6 June 2018

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


1827, in the meaning defined above


1567, in the meaning defined at sense 2

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Time Traveler for thespian

The first known use of thespian was in 1567

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using a distributed computer network

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