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

Any devoted audiobook listener can attest: Spending nine hours (or more) in the company of a terrible reader — a shrieker, mumbler, droner, tooth whistler or overzealous thespian — is an experience that can truly ruin a book. Dallas News, "Don't let a bad reader ruin your audiobook experience: Here are recordings to savor — and to avoid," 20 Aug. 2019 Anything too big, too thespian, can become exhausting week after week. Los Angeles Times, "‘Veronica Mars’ proves why Kristen Bell is one of TV’s best actors," 25 July 2019 Eventually, a few of these semi-amateur thespians, demoralized by disaster, go rogue. Charles Mcnulty,, "Review: How funny is ‘The Play That Goes Wrong’? Depends on your appetite for pranks and pratfalls," 12 July 2019 And three years ago, Brie Larson was introduced as Captain Marvel alongside dozens of fellow superhero thespians. Brian Truitt, USA TODAY, "Why we're dying to see Marvel reload its 'Avengers' starpower at Comic-Con," 19 July 2019 The Play That Goes Wrong Accident-prone thespians attempt to stage a 1920s murder mystery in this farce written by Henry Lewis, Jonathan Sayer and Henry Shields. Matt Cooper,, "SoCal theater listings, July 7-14: ‘The Play That Goes Wrong,’ ‘The Skin of Our Teeth’ and more," 5 July 2019 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

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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Learn More about thespian

Statistics for thespian

Last Updated

2 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for thespian

The first known use of thespian was in 1567

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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).


formidable, illustrious, or eminent

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