Definition of theater in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈTHēədər/
(also theatre)


1A building or outdoor area in which plays and other dramatic performances are given.
Example sentences
  • Performances increasingly moved to theatres with proscenium arches, so the audience now viewed the dancers from the front, though no two spectators would have an identical view.
  • The next performance at the theatre is Alan Ayckbourn's ‘Relatively Speaking’.
  • A landmark cultural building, either a theatre or an opera house, according to Coyne, will act as a focal point for the area.
1.1 (often the theater) The activity or profession of acting in, producing, directing, or writing plays: what made you want to go into the theater?
More example sentences
  • After graduating, Grant dabbled briefly in advertising but plugged away at an acting career in regional theatre.
  • Since then he has attended the London Academy for Music and Dramatic Arts, and has been involved in all aspects of theatre including writing, acting and producing.
  • He is known for his non-conformist attitude in every field in which he has proven himself, be it politics, theatre or the legal profession.
1.2A play or other activity or presentation considered in terms of its dramatic quality: this is intense, moving, and inspiring theater
More example sentences
  • They have acquired such a reputation for quality theatre that their shows are always a date for the calendar.
  • It has an unrivalled reputation for producing contemporary theatre of the highest quality, invention and energy, and for its dedication to new writing.
  • You couldn't get a better experience in terms of theatre.
1.3chiefly North American & West Indian A movie theater.
Example sentences
  • If you really want to give them a treat, take them to a movie at an IMAX theater.
  • Star Wars seemed to be playing in every single theater.
  • Everything changed in 1962 when I wandered into a double bill of Alain Resnais movies at a Boston art theater.
1.4A room or hall for lectures, etc., with seats in tiers.
Example sentences
  • He made the infants' room look like a lecture theatre, with children as young as three sitting on tiers in a gallery.
  • Work is due to start in April on the three-storey school, which will include a lecture theatre, IT rooms, restaurants and sports facilities.
  • The accommodation is rather basic and although they already have a lecture theatre, smaller conference rooms are needed.
1.5The area in which something happens: a new theater of war has been opened up
More example sentences
  • The question has to be asked, however, what parents were doing allowing their children to be in harm's way in the middle of a bloody theatre of war.
  • The theatre of war looms large in France's film culture and this First World War prison drama, based on a true story, was long hailed as one of the greatest films ever made.
  • To compound the woes of the invading forces, with every passing day weather conditions in the theatre of war will grow increasingly worse.
scene, arena, field/sphere/place of action, setting, site
1.6 [as modifier] Denoting weapons for use in a particular region between tactical and strategic: he was working on theater defense missiles
More example sentences
  • The Russians had rattled sabers throughout 1983, trying to stop NATO's theater missile deployment.
  • In the wake of the Rome Declaration, a special working group on theater missile defense was set up.
  • But it is not a tactical and theater missile threat that has formed the focus of National Missile Defense.


Late Middle English (originally as 'theatre'), from Old French, or from Latin theatrum, from Greek theatron, from theasthai 'behold'.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: the·a·ter

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