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See more synonyms for histrionics on Thesaurus.com
noun (used with a singular or plural verb)
  1. dramatic representation; theatricals; acting.
  2. behavior or speech for effect, as insincere or exaggerated expression of an emotion; dramatics; operatics: Cut out the histrionics—we know you're not really mad.
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Origin of histrionics

First recorded in 1860–65; see origin at histrionic, -ics
Can be confusedhysterics histrionics


adjective Also his·tri·on·i·cal.
  1. of or relating to actors or acting.
  2. deliberately affected or self-consciously emotional; overly dramatic, in behavior or speech.
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  1. an actor.
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Origin of histrionic

1640–50; < Late Latin histrōnicus of actors, equivalent to histriōn- (stem of histriō) actor (said to be < Etruscan) + -icus -ic
Related formshis·tri·on·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·his·tri·on·ic, adjectivenon·his·tri·on·i·cal, adjectivenon·his·tri·on·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·his·tri·on·i·cal·ness, nounun·his·tri·on·ic, adjective
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words

dramatization, performance, performing, dramatics

Examples from the Web for histrionics

Contemporary Examples

Historical Examples

  • Her one art was histrionics of the kind that made an individual appeal.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

  • Edward put off his histrionics, and rushed up to her as the consoler—a new part for him.

    The Golden Age

    Kenneth Grahame

  • He would wish to know what it was supposed to be, like Nash's histrionics.

    The Tragic Muse

    Henry James

  • It was a feint, she thought, histrionics for the gallery, perhaps for her.

    The Monster

    Edgar Saltus

  • In Oratorio we have the same thing without the scenery and the histrionics.

    Beauty and the Beast

    Stewart A. McDowall

British Dictionary definitions for histrionics



  1. excessively dramatic, insincere, or artificialhistrionic gestures
  2. rare dramatic
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  1. (plural) melodramatic displays of temperament
  2. rare (plural, functioning as singular) dramatics
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Derived Formshistrionically, adverb

Word Origin

C17: from Late Latin histriōnicus of a player, from histriō actor
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

Word Origin and History for histrionics


"theatrics, pretense," 1864, from histrionic; also see -ics.

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"theatrical" (figuratively, "hypocritical"), 1640s, from Latin histrionicus "pertaining to an actor," from histrio (genitive histrionis) "actor," said to be of Etruscan origin. The literal sense in English is from 1759.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper