Word: melodramatic

Pronunciation: me-lə-drə-MA-tik

Part of Speech: adjective

Definition: exaggerated, sensationalized or overemotional

Source: Oxford Dictionaries


Prince Edward: You lying, murderous wretch! When we return home, Andalasia shall know of your treachery! Your days as queen will be over!

Queen Narissa: Take my crown? Don’t you think that’s a bit melodramatic, dear?

Prince Edward: I don’t know what “melodramatic” means, but you’ll be removed from the throne, Narissa! I will see to it.

Enchanted (2007)

Although I had long been familiar with the word “melodramatic”, the above dialogue from the 2007 Disney film Enchanted is what inspired me to research it and, more recently, to include it in my vocabulary list. After discovering that his evil stepmother has poisoned his fiancé Giselle, Prince Edward promises to have her stripped of her title as Queen, a threat she nervously dismisses as unnecessarily dramatic. Of course, had Edward understood what she was saying, he certainly would have disagreed that his punishment would be unfair, given that she was attempting to murder his future princess.

Action regarded as “melodramatic” is exaggerated, sensationalized and overly emotional in nature. In other words, it’s dramatic for the sake of being dramatic. Derived from the noun “melodrama”, the word can be traced back to the French noun mélodrame, which in turn is comprised of the Greek noun melos “music” and the French noun drame “drama”.

In my opinion, “melodramatic” is especially useful for describing artistic characters such as actors and other performers. As for my experience with it, the last time I used the term “melodrama” in a story was satirically, to draw attention to a character’s impulsive and emotional behavior. I’ve always thought this word works best to make fun of overly dramatic actions, so you’ll probably get the most use out of it in this sense as well. Just take care not to make your stories unintentionally “melodramatic”!

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

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