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[thee-sis] /ˈθi sɪs/
noun, plural theses
[thee-seez] /ˈθi siz/ (Show IPA)
a proposition stated or put forward for consideration, especially one to be discussed and proved or to be maintained against objections:
He vigorously defended his thesis on the causes of war.
a subject for a composition or essay.
a dissertation on a particular subject in which one has done original research, as one presented by a candidate for a diploma or degree.
Music. the downward stroke in conducting; downbeat.
Compare arsis (def 1).
  1. a part of a metrical foot that does not bear the ictus or stress.
  2. (less commonly) the part of a metrical foot that bears the ictus.
    Compare arsis (def 2).
Philosophy. See under Hegelian dialectic.
Origin of thesis
1350-1400; Middle English < Latin < Greek thésis a setting down, something set down, equivalent to the- (stem of tithénai to put, set down) + -sis -sis
Can be confused
antithesis, synthesis, thesis.
dissertation, thesis.
1. theory, contention, proposal.

Hegelian dialectic

an interpretive method, originally used to relate specific entities or events to the absolute idea, in which some assertible proposition (thesis) is necessarily opposed by an equally assertible and apparently contradictory proposition (antithesis) the mutual contradiction being reconciled on a higher level of truth by a third proposition (synthesis) Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for thesis
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • A little later, I could have done no worse with a thesis to the effect that music is an immoral influence.

  • After this appeal to reason in his readers, Mr. Wattal develops his thesis.

    The New World of Islam Lothrop Stoddard
  • I am the author of the thesis last read; but I am not entitled to the prize; there has been a mistake.

    Ishmael Mrs. E. D. E. N. Southworth
  • I thanked Number Seven for his poetical illustration of my thesis.

    Over the Teacups Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
  • Their citation in support of the thesis of Church opposition to science, theoretic or applied, is entirely without justification.

    The Popes and Science James J. Walsh
British Dictionary definitions for thesis


noun (pl) -ses (-siːz)
a dissertation resulting from original research, esp when submitted by a candidate for a degree or diploma
a doctrine maintained or promoted in argument
a subject for a discussion or essay
an unproved statement, esp one put forward as a premise in an argument
(music) the downbeat of a bar, as indicated in conducting
(in classical prosody) the syllable or part of a metrical foot not receiving the ictus Compare arsis
(philosophy) the first stage in the Hegelian dialectic, that is challenged by the antithesis
Word Origin
C16: via Late Latin from Greek: a placing, from tithenai to place

Hegelian dialectic

/hɪˈɡeɪlɪan, heɪˈɡiː-/
(philosophy) an interpretive method in which the contradiction between a proposition (thesis) and its antithesis is resolved at a higher level of truth (synthesis)
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 thesis

late 14c., "unaccented syllable or note," from Latin thesis "unaccented syllable in poetry," later "stressed part of a metrical foot," from Greek thesis "a proposition," also "downbeat" (in music), originally "a setting down or placing," from root of tithenai "to place, put, set," from PIE root *dhe- "to put, to do" (see factitious). Sense in logic of "a proposition, statement to be proved" is first recorded 1570s; that of "dissertation written by a candidate for a university degree" is from 1650s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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thesis in Culture

thesis definition

The central idea in a piece of writing, sometimes contained in a topic sentence.

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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