soap opera

[op-er-uh, op-ruh]
See more synonyms for soap opera on
  1. a radio or television series depicting the interconnected lives of many characters often in a sentimental, melodramatic way.

Origin of soap opera

An Americanism dating back to 1935–40; so called because soap manufacturers were among the original sponsors of such programs Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for soap opera

serial, soap, melodrama

Examples from the Web for soap opera

Contemporary Examples of soap opera

British Dictionary definitions for soap opera

soap opera

  1. a serialized drama, usually dealing with domestic themes and characterized by sentimentality, broadcast on radio or television

Word Origin for soap opera

C20: so called because manufacturers of soap were typical sponsors
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 soap opera

"melodramatic radio serial" (later extended to television), 1939; so-called because sponsors often were soap manufacturers, from earlier horse opera "a Western" (1927). Shortened form soap for this first attested 1943.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Idioms and Phrases with soap opera

soap opera


A radio or television serial with stock characters in domestic dramas that are noted for being sentimental and melodramatic. For example, She just watches soap operas all day long. This term originated in the mid-1930s and was so called because the sponsors of the earliest such radio shows were often soap manufacturers.


Real-life situation resembling one that might occur in a soap opera, as in She just goes on and on about her various medical and family problems, one long soap opera. [1940s]

The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.