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

Definition of thespian

 (Entry 1 of 2)



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

Antonyms: Noun

  • nonactor
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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

Noun 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 That little fact about the conniving thespian twins, portrayed for three movies by Lucas Grabeel and Ashley Tisdale, needs no confirmation. Emily Tannenbaum, Glamour, "High School Musical Director Kenny Ortega Explained Why Ryan Evans Wasn’t Openly Gay," 1 July 2020 The players strut, scowl, looking nervous and thespian. James Parker, The Atlantic, "My Soccer Fandom Is Out of Shape," 18 June 2020 According to the video’s caption, the video was a amateur thespian’s attempt to showcase a groom’s possible reaction to seeing his bride walk down the aisle at his wedding. Melissa Locker, Time, "This Tearful Reaction Video Has Become a Meme for All the Momentous Occasions People Miss Most," 22 May 2020 The ornery Frank will always be remembered; so, too, should Stiller, the sweet thespian and consummate professional who brought him to life. David Sims, The Atlantic, "The Sitcom Dad Who Made Grouchiness Into an Art Form," 12 May 2020 Cirque Joyeux Dinner and Show: 6:30-8:30 p.m. Take a magical journey from There to Here in the company of musical and stage royal couple, the award-winning Texas thespians Linda Leonard and Bill Jenkins. Jan Burns, Houston Chronicle, "Ice, lights, colorful events bring joy to the island," 15 Nov. 2019 She was nominated by the Lake Ridge Academy student thespian group. cleveland, "Prayers from Maria Field of Hope to continue blooming in Avon: Short Takes on Avon, Avon Lake and North Ridgeville," 14 Mar. 2020 More than with his girlfriend, Ophelia (Aoife Duffin) or best friend, Horatio (Mark Huberman); certainly more than with any member of his family, Hamlet feels close spiritual kinship with these journeyman thespians. Ben Brantley, New York Times, "Review: In ‘Hamlet,’ Ruth Negga Rules as a Player Prince," 10 Feb. 2020 Porter’s thespian instead helps Kipps turn the story into a play and takes on the role of the young Kipps himself, thus creating a show-within-a-show. Breanne L. Heldman,, "The Woman in Black is full of jumps and scares — in the most delightful way: Review," 24 Jan. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective There’s no snarky butler, privileged children, or thespian heartthrob in sight, but here’s Fran, glamorously cross-legged in a robe—signature morning attire for her iconic TV persona, Fran Fine of The Nanny. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Fran Drescher Knows She's an Instagram Fashion Icon," 6 Feb. 2020 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

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The first known use of thespian was in 1567

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Statistics for thespian

Last Updated

7 Jul 2020

Cite this Entry

“Thespian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 Jul. 2020.

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