a subject of discourse, discussion, meditation, or composition; topic: The need for world peace was the theme of the meeting.
a unifying or dominant idea, motif, etc., as in a work of art.
a short, informal essay, especially a school composition.
a principal melodic subject in a musical composition.
a short melodic subject from which variations are developed.
Grammar. the element common to all or most of the forms of an inflectional paradigm, often consisting of a root with certain formative elements or modifications. Compare stem1 ( def 16 ).
Linguistics, topic ( def 4 ).
Also, thema. an administrative division of the Byzantine Empire.
having a unifying theme: a theme restaurant decorated like a spaceship.
verb (used with object), themed, theming.
to provide with a theme.

1250–1300; Middle English teme, theme (< Old French teme) < Medieval Latin thema, Latin < Greek théma proposition, deposit, akin to tithénai to put, set down

themeless, adjective
subtheme, noun

1. thesis, text. See subject. 3. paper. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
Cite This Source Link To theme
World English Dictionary
theme (θiːm)
1.  an idea or topic expanded in a discourse, discussion, etc
2.  (in literature, music, art, etc) a unifying idea, image, or motif, repeated or developed throughout a work
3.  music a group of notes forming a recognizable melodic unit, often used as the basis of the musical material in a composition
4.  a short essay, esp one set as an exercise for a student
5.  linguistics the first major constituent of a sentence, usually but not necessarily the subject. In the sentence history I do like, "history" is the theme of the sentence, even though it is the object of the verb
6.  grammar root another word for stem
7.  (in the Byzantine Empire) a territorial unit consisting of several provinces under a military commander
8.  (modifier) planned or designed round one unifying subject, image, etc: a theme holiday
9.  (tr) to design, decorate, arrange, etc, in accordance with a theme
[C13: from Latin thema, from Greek: deposit, from tithenai to lay down]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
Cite This Source
Word Origin & History

c.1300, from O.Fr. tesme (13c., with silent -s-), from L. thema "a subject, thesis," from Gk. thema "a proposition, subject, deposit," lit. "something set down," from root of tithenai "put down, place," from PIE base *dhe- "to put, to do" (see factitious). Extension to
music first recorded 1674; theme song first attested 1929. Theme park is from 1960.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
Cite This Source
American Heritage
Cultural Dictionary

theme definition

A central idea in a piece of writing or other work of art: “The theme of desperation is found throughout his novels.” Also a short composition assigned to a student as a writing exercise.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
Cite This Source
Example sentences
Water and plants carry the mountain theme throughout the garden.
His reluctance to make definitive public statements on the secession crisis was
  an ongoing theme in his remarks on this journey.
Even culture, symbols-metamorphosis, this transcendent theme in literature
  around the world.
Well, if today's prizes have a theme it's that of good, old fashioned fun.
Copyright © 2014, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature