[thee-uh-ter, theeuh-]


Nearby words

  1. theater of war,
  2. theater-in-the-round,
  3. theatergoer,
  4. theatine,
  5. theatines,
  6. theatre of cruelty,
  7. theatre of the absurd,
  8. theatre-in-the-round,
  9. theatrical,
  10. theatrical film


or the·a·tre

[thee-uh-ter, theeuh-]


a building, part of a building, or outdoor area for housing dramatic presentations, stage entertainments, or motion-picture shows.
the audience at a theatrical or motion-picture performance: The theater wept.
a theatrical or acting company.
a room or hall, fitted with tiers of seats rising like steps, used for lectures, surgical demonstrations, etc.: Students crowded into the operating theater.
the theater, dramatic performances as a branch of art; the drama: an actress devoted to the theater.
dramatic works collectively, as of literature, a nation, or an author (often preceded by the): the theater of Ibsen.
the quality or effectiveness of dramatic performance: good theater; bad theater; pure theater.
a place of action; field of operations.
a natural formation of land rising by steps or gradations.

Origin of theater

1325–75; Middle English theatre < Latin theātrum < Greek théātron seeing place, theater, equivalent to theā-, stem of theâsthai to view + -tron suffix denoting means or place

Related formsnon·the·a·ter, adjectivepre·the·a·ter, adjective

Pronunciation note

Theater, an early Middle English borrowing from French, originally had its primary stress on the second syllable: [French tey-ah-truh] /French teɪˈɑ trə/. As with many early French borrowings ( beauty, carriage, marriage ), the stress moved to the first syllable, in conformity with a common English pattern of stress, and this pattern remains the standard one for theater today: [thee-uh-ter, theeuh-] /ˈθi ə tər, ˈθiə-/. A pronunciation with stress on the second syllable and the [ey] /eɪ/ vowel: [thee-ey-ter] /θiˈeɪ tər/ or sometimes [thee-ey-ter] /ˈθiˌeɪ tər/ is characteristic chiefly of uneducated speech. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for theatre

British Dictionary definitions for theatre


US theater


  1. a building designed for the performance of plays, operas, etc
  2. (as modifier)a theatre ticket
  3. (in combination)a theatregoer
a large room or hall, usually with a raised platform and tiered seats for an audience, used for lectures, film shows, etc
Also called: operating theatre a room in a hospital or other medical centre equipped for surgical operations
plays regarded collectively as a form of art
the theatre the world of actors, theatrical companies, etcthe glamour of the theatre
a setting for dramatic or important events
writing that is suitable for dramatic presentationa good piece of theatre
US, Australian and NZ the usual word for cinema (def. 1)
a major area of military activitythe theatre of operations
a circular or semicircular open-air building with tiers of seats

Word Origin for theatre

C14: from Latin theātrum, from Greek theatron place for viewing, from theasthai to look at; related to Greek thauma miracle

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 theatre
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper