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


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

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
An aspiring thespian, Carina starred as Fiona in her school’s musical production of Shrek in spring 2023. Emily Weaver, Peoplemag, 28 Oct. 2023 What would the bevy of moonlighting thespians mean for the quality of the festival? Vulture, 14 Sep. 2023 Theater Kids: Former thespians have become governors, Supreme Court justices and tech executives. Sarah Archer, New York Times, 31 Aug. 2023 But Loretta and Ben are just two egotistical thespians among many. Alison Herman, Variety, 8 Aug. 2023 She wasn’t disappointed by the effort of her young thespians. Hank Beckman, Chicago Tribune, 4 Aug. 2023 Another major difference between the 2014 and 2023 versions of Beau Is Afraid is that the group Beau stumbles upon while fleeing through the woods midway through the film in the earlier script is more of a self-help commune than the later band of traveling thespians. Vulture, 13 June 2023 That’s provided her the opportunity to work on unconventional stages, the kind that a young New York thespian may have once rolled her eyes at, like the night sky above Sleeping Beauty Castle. Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times, 25 May 2023 The film’s most notable asset is a clutch of exclusive interviews with the unfailingly charismatic Zelenskyy, whose telegenic gifts as an erstwhile performer are a particular point of fascination for his fellow thespian here, but even those haven’t exactly been thin on the ground of late. Guy Lodge, Variety, 18 Feb. 2023
The young actress already had Friends, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Tinker Bell and Hope Floats under her thespian belt. Stephanie Sengwe, Peoplemag, 17 Nov. 2023 Order and certainty aren’t typically seen as benefits of the thespian calling, and even Aden doesn’t sound entirely convinced of his own words. Guy Lodge, Variety, 2 July 2023 As the improviser stumbles through the scene with no knowledge of the text, the thespian diligently sticks to the script. Thomas Floyd, Washington Post, 28 June 2023 Though Blood and Honey certainly won’t be winning any awards for innovative writing or legendary thespian performance, its macabre absurdity and inordinate gore are enough to buoy the film’s ability to offer rote amusement with a cynical depravity. Colin Scanlon, Redbook, 14 June 2023 Theo James will ape the example of many a thespian predecessor by starring in a movie adaptation of a Stephen King tale. Clark Collis,, 9 May 2023 The Robes While the crown is obviously an emblem of royal figures, the use of robes is truly what makes the coronation a thespian affair. Isiah Magsino, Town & Country, 7 May 2023 The two share four children who have all followed in his thespian footsteps and forayed into the entertainment industry. Stephanie Sengwe, Peoplemag, 30 Mar. 2023 British thespian and first-time Academy Award nominee Bill Nighy used the 2023 Oscars red carpet on Sunday to debut some new arm candy. Vulture, 14 Mar. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'thespian.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use


1827, in the meaning defined above


1567, in the meaning defined at sense 2

Time Traveler
The first known use of thespian was in 1567

Dictionary Entries Near thespian

Cite this Entry

“Thespian.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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