One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
Attributive Designating plays performed at or in a style characteristic of the Adelphi Theatre in London, especially (in early use, chiefly in "Adelphi screamer") a type of broad comedy or farce; (later) a type of melodrama which was prevalent in the last decades of the 19th cent., typically with the dialogue written in a literary rather than natural, conversational style.
Mid 19th century; earliest use found in Edinburgh Literary Journal. From Adelphi, the name of a London theatre in the vicinity of, and named after, a group of neoclassical terrace houses between the Strand and the Thames, designed by the Adam brothers from ancient Greek ἀδελϕοί, plural of ἀδελϕός brother.
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