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[mel-uh-drah-muh, -dram-uh] /ˈmɛl əˌdrɑ mə, -ˌdræm ə/
a dramatic form that does not observe the laws of cause and effect and that exaggerates emotion and emphasizes plot or action at the expense of characterization.
melodramatic behavior or events.
(in the 17th, 18th, and early 19th centuries) a romantic dramatic composition with music interspersed.
Origin of melodrama
1800-10; < French mélodrame, equivalent to mélo- (< Greek mélos song) + drame drama
Related forms
[mel-uh-dram-uh-tist, -drah-muh-] /ˌmɛl əˈdræm ə tɪst, -ˈdrɑ mə-/ (Show IPA),
minimelodrama, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for melodrama
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Exaggerated as it all was, somehow the melodrama dropped away from it and left bare, simple, hideous fact for her to confront.

    The Shuttle Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Angelo is pure melodrama; Marie Tudor is the melodrama of history.

  • There is nothing of melodrama, nothing inconsequent, nothing exaggerated.

    Authors of Greece T. W. Lumb
  • "We're to meet a man," Senesin said, with an air of melodrama.

    The Unnecessary Man Gordon Randall Garrett
  • The fact is, as it seems to me, that the proper place for melodrama is not the study but the stage.

British Dictionary definitions for melodrama


a play, film, etc, characterized by extravagant action and emotion
(formerly) a romantic drama characterized by sensational incident, music, and song
overdramatic emotion or behaviour
a poem or part of a play or opera spoken to a musical accompaniment
Derived Forms
melodramatist (ˌmɛləˈdræmətɪst) noun
melodramatic (ˌmɛlədrəˈmætɪk) adjective
melodramatics, noun:plural
melodramatically, adverb
Word Origin
C19: from French mélodrame, from Greek melos song + dramedrama
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for melodrama

1784 (1782 as melo drame), "a stage-play in which songs were interspersed and music accompanied the action," from French mélodrame (18c.), from Greek melos "song" (see melody) + French drame "drama" (see drama). Meaning "a romantic and sensational dramatic piece with a happy ending" is from 1883, because this was often the form of the original melodramas. Also from French are Spanish melodrama, Italian melodramma, German melodram. Related: Melodramatize.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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melodrama in Culture

melodrama definition

A play or film in which the plot is often sensational and the characters may display exaggerated emotion.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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