theme

A theme can be an underlying topic of a discussion or a recurring idea in an artistic work. Anxiety about getting married is a big theme in romantic comedies.

From ancient Greek thema (via Latin and French) we get this word, whose many related uses all have to do with the idea of "the main subject of something." In music, it can be a recurring melody in a composition, or an entire song throughout a play or film (a theme song). It can also describe the decor of a setting: "The amusement park had a Wild West theme."

Definitions of theme
  1. noun
    the subject matter of a conversation or discussion
    “his letters were always on the theme of love”
    synonyms: subject, topic
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    types:
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    bone of contention
    the subject of a dispute
    precedent
    a subject mentioned earlier (preceding in time)
    head, question
    the subject matter at issue
    keynote
    the principal theme in a speech or literary work
    problem
    a question raised for consideration or solution
    matter of fact, question of fact
    a disputed factual contention that is generally left for a jury to decide
    matter of law, question of law
    a disputed legal contention that is generally left for a judge to decide
    type of:
    content, message, subject matter, substance
    what a communication that is about something is about
  2. noun
    a unifying idea that is a recurrent element in literary or artistic work
    “it was the usual `boy gets girl' theme
    synonyms: motif
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    types:
    topos
    a traditional theme or motif or literary convention
    type of:
    idea, thought
    the content of cognition; the main thing you are thinking about
  3. noun
    an essay (especially one written as an assignment)
    synonyms: composition, paper, report
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    types:
    term paper
    a composition intended to indicate a student's progress during a school term
    type of:
    essay
    an analytic or interpretive literary composition
  4. noun
    (music) melodic subject of a musical composition
    “the theme is announced in the first measures”
    synonyms: idea, melodic theme, musical theme
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    types:
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    motif, motive
    a theme that is repeated or elaborated in a piece of music
    statement
    (music) the presentation of a musical theme
    variation
    a repetition of a musical theme in which it is modified or embellished
    obbligato, obligato
    a persistent but subordinate motif
    inversion
    (counterpoint) a variation of a melody or part in which ascending intervals are replaced by descending intervals and vice versa
    augmentation
    the statement of a theme in notes of greater duration (usually twice the length of the original)
    diminution
    the statement of a theme in notes of lesser duration (usually half the length of the original)
    partita
    one of the variations contained in a partita
    type of:
    air, line, melodic line, melodic phrase, melody, strain, tune
    a succession of notes forming a distinctive sequence
  5. verb
    provide with a particular theme or motive
    “the restaurant often themes its menus”
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    type of:
    furnish, provide, render, supply
    give something useful or necessary to
  6. noun
    (linguistics) the form of a word after all affixes are removed
    synonyms: base, radical, root, root word, stem
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    type of:
    descriptor, form, signifier, word form
    the phonological or orthographic sound or appearance of a word that can be used to describe or identify something
Word Family