Word: histrionic

Pronunciation: his-tree-AH-nik

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: overly theatrical or melodramatic in character or style

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


“Histrionic” is one of those words that every artist should know, in my opinion. It’s especially relevant to those in the performing arts, as it can accurately define the level of work in which they’re involved. After all, it’s important for actors and writers alike to understand as much as possible about the spectrum of “drama”, right?

Actions described as “histrionic” are dramatic to an exaggerated degree. The word comes from the late Latin adjective histrionicus, which means something along the lines of “pertaining to acting”. This adjective stems from the noun histrio, meaning “actor” or “performer”.

This word is best known as the noun “histrionics”, which refers to theatrical behavior intended to draw attention. Notably, alternative definitions make references to acting and theatrics: as an adjective, it can be used as a formal word for describing things concerning acting, or in psychiatry as a type of personality disorder involving exaggerated emotions and attention-seeking behavior. It was also once used as a noun to mean “actor”, though that definition has since become archaic. Personally, I prefer to use it as the noun “histrionics”; there can be a lot of fun in writing about the absurdly dramatic behavior of fictional characters!

What are your thoughts on this word? Any suggestions for future “Word of the Week” featured words?

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