[ 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 formsmel·o·dram·a·tist [mel-uh-dram-uh-tist, -drah-muh-] /ˌmɛl əˈdræm ə tɪst, -ˈdrɑ mə-/, nounmin·i·mel·o·dra·ma, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for melodrama

British Dictionary definitions for melodrama


/ (ˈmɛləˌdrɑːmə) /


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 Formsmelodramatist (ˌmɛləˈdræmətɪst), nounmelodramatic (ˌmɛlədrəˈmætɪk), adjectivemelodramatics, pl nmelodramatically, adverb

Word Origin for melodrama

C19: from French mélodrame, from Greek melos song + drame drama
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 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

Culture definitions for melodrama


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

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