from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A topic of discourse or discussion. synonym: subject.
  • noun A subject of artistic representation.
  • noun An implicit or recurrent idea; a motif.
  • noun A short composition assigned to a student as a writing exercise.
  • noun Music A recurring melodic element in a composition, especially a melody forming the basis of a set of variations.
  • noun A stem.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A subject or topic on which a person writes or speaks; anything proposed as a subject of discourse or discussion.
  • noun That which is said or thought on a given topic.
  • noun Question; subject; matter.
  • noun A short dissertation composed by a student on a given subject; a brief essay; a school composition; a thesis.
  • noun In philology, the part of a noun or verb to which inflectional endings are added; stem; base.
  • noun In music, same as subject. The term is sometimes extended to a short melody from which a set of variations is developed.
  • noun That by which a thing is done; an instrument; a means.
  • noun A division for the purpose of provincial administration under the Byzantine empire. There were twenty-nine themes, twelve in Europe and seventeen in Asia. Also thema.
  • noun In logic, same as thema, 3.
  • noun In astrology, a figure of nativity.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun A subject or topic on which a person writes or speaks; a proposition for discussion or argument; a text.
  • noun Discourse on a certain subject.
  • noun A composition or essay required of a pupil.
  • noun (Gram.) A noun or verb, not modified by inflections; also, that part of a noun or verb which remains unchanged (except by euphonic variations) in declension or conjugation; stem.
  • noun obsolete That by means of which a thing is done; means; instrument.
  • noun (Mus.) The leading subject of a composition or a movement.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A subject of a talk or an artistic piece; a topic.
  • noun A recurring idea; a motif.
  • noun music The main melody of a piece of music, especially one that is the source of variations.
  • noun computing, figuratively The collection of color schemes, sounds, artwork etc., that "skin" an environment towards a particular motif.
  • noun grammar The stem of a word
  • noun linguistics thematic relation of a noun phrase to a verb
  • noun linguistics Theta role in generative grammar and government and binding theory.
  • noun linguistics Topic, what is being talked about, as opposed to rheme
  • noun A regional unit of organisation in the Byzantine empire.
  • verb computing, transitive To apply a theme to; to change the visual appearance and/or layout of (software).

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the subject matter of a conversation or discussion
  • noun an essay (especially one written as an assignment)
  • noun (linguistics) the form of a word after all affixes are removed
  • noun (music) melodic subject of a musical composition
  • noun a unifying idea that is a recurrent element in literary or artistic work
  • verb provide with a particular theme or motive


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English teme, theme, from Old French tesme, from Latin thema, from Greek; see dhē- in Indo-European roots.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Old French tesme (French: thème), from Latin thema, from Ancient Greek θέμα (théma), from τίθημι (tithemi, "I put, place"), reduplicative from Proto-Indo-European *dʰeh₁- (“to put, place, do”) (whence also English do).


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word theme.



Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.