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

Keep scrolling for more

Synonyms & Antonyms for thespian

Synonyms: Noun

actor, impersonator, mummer, player, thesp, trouper

Antonyms: Noun


Visit the Thesaurus for More 

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

Their annual performances of Shakespeare, staged in the churchyard of Grace Episcopal, are free and picnic-friendly, and acted by a mix of veteran thespians and first-timers. Washington Post, "13 things to do in the D.C. area this week," 17 June 2019 Kane's Rexy is a brash young thespian with sharp elbows and a tragic backstory. Jeffrey Gillespie| For The Oregonian/oregonlive,, "Elvis impersonator transforms into drag diva in endearing ‘Legend of Georgia McBride’," 10 June 2019 In fact, the Iron Man Kona is only the latest product from the Korean automaker to enter into the comic-book universe; the new Veloster hatchback was featured in the 2018 film Ant-Man and the Wasp, starring master thespian Paul Rudd. Drew Dorian, Car and Driver, "With the 2019 Hyundai Kona Iron Man Edition, MCU Means Marvel Car Universe," 10 May 2019 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

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.

See More

First Known Use of thespian


1827, in the meaning defined above


1567, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about thespian

Statistics for thespian

Last Updated

24 Jun 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for thespian

The first known use of thespian was in 1567

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on thespian

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for thespian

Comments on thespian

What made you want to look up thespian? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


an act or instance of editing or removing

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

What's that Smell?! Quiz

  • wide eyed dog smelling rose
  • Someone who is hircine smells like a:
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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