Definition of histrionic in English:



  • 1Excessively theatrical or dramatic in character or style.

    ‘a histrionic outburst’
    • ‘Even by his own histrionic standards, O'Neill's reaction to the match-winning penalty in Lyon on Wednesday night laid bare his soul.’
    • ‘As Godard declares, in his own histrionic manner, the end of cinema is nigh.’
    • ‘Sung like this on the concert platform, it would sound histrionic; here it was entirely authentic.’
    • ‘Thank God, it's also not ‘entertaining’ in the histrionic style of films such as Girl, Interrupted and A Beautiful Mind.’
    • ‘However, rereading what I consider rather histrionic bile, and, moreover, reading it carefully, is something I can put off for days.’
    • ‘My friends hated these poems because the poems were crazy and because Bingo read them in a crazy, histrionic manner.’
    • ‘Dubble pushed off into the air again and in a histrionic sally swung his arms open, as if to dramatize his explanation.’
    • ‘The fact is, I like histrionic piano breaks and corny melodic swoops, and I don't like rough-edged voices and rhythm guitars.’
    • ‘Possibly, this sympathy could appear somewhat self-indulgent, or over-dramatic, if not actually absurdly histrionic.’
    • ‘Taking offence, making a show of it, is a peculiarly self-theatrical, melodramatic, histrionic gesture in the annals of criticism.’
    • ‘They have an unfair disadvantage when it comes to appreciating what you do, because they know all about you and your histrionic outbursts.’
    • ‘His histrionic oratorical style sometimes distracts from his message.’
    • ‘Clarissa's quiet apotheosis is offered as an alternative to histrionic theatrics.’
    • ‘Perhaps you think me melodramatic, or even histrionic.’
    • ‘Judge Smith became the target of a ‘borking,’ a campaign of histrionic criticism intended to block a presidential appointment.’
    • ‘Buddy Guy's version of ‘Money’ is a great example of the extended guitar solo rock style - wonderfully histrionic.’
    melodramatic, theatrical, affected, dramatic, exaggerated, actorly, actressy, stagy, showy, artificial, overacted, overdone, unnatural, mannered, stilted, unreal
    hammy, ham, camp
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    1. 1.1formal Of or concerning actors or acting.
      ‘histrionic talents’
      • ‘Students in these hostels have a lot of opportunities to develop their histrionic talents.’
      • ‘It is not imperative to prove my histrionic skills in Hindi.’
      • ‘Their melodramatic arrangements, cascading strings and faintly histrionic vocal performances reflected the films' camp excesses.’
      • ‘While attempting to create a visually striking performance, Kosky tends to exaggerate these elements, giving it a rather histrionic quality.’
      • ‘The director, Gurudanapal, says Satyaraj gets maximum mileage of the story with his histrionic and comedy talent.’
      • ‘The film could have explored the histrionic potential of Murali and Rakshita had the director treated the theme with more depth.’
      • ‘Realism got the better of histrionic melodrama in Waterloo, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's rather stiff one-act character sketch.’
      • ‘The talented actor, Jeremy Irons, rarely gets an opportunity to express his true histrionic skills in the tumults movie.’
      • ‘Her captivating beauty and histrionic talent add to her persona.’
      • ‘It also works because of Don Cheadle's subdued yet intense performance which sidesteps every histrionic outburst that his part invites.’
      • ‘The film depends on the histrionic talents of Simbu who fills the screen from start to finish.’
      • ‘Mary got her groove back with last year's No More Drama, a stellar R&B album that played with melodrama but never flew into histrionic territory.’
      • ‘Appa the comrade was one such character, which really put to test his histrionic prowess.’
      • ‘Her histrionic skills aside, the fact that she has an ‘ordinary’ face helps her blend well into the fabric of off-beat films too, she says.’
      • ‘Spellbound inmates have been cheering every dialogue and applauding the histrionic skills of actors.’
      • ‘So expect a dramatic, theatrical, even histrionic week in which others might surprise you by declining to act out the roles you've cast them in.’
      • ‘I was no more impressed by this histrionic performance than I was when the actor went into a ‘holy trance’ as part of his routine.’
      • ‘A little natural histrionic talent and lots of luck are what you require to make it big on the silver screen.’
      • ‘If political parties want to use their histrionic talents, why not?’
      • ‘Anto put his histrionic skills to the test by acting in certain productions of Kalidasa Kalakendram and the film ‘Kuttavaali.’’
    2. 1.2Psychiatry Denoting a personality disorder marked by shallow volatile emotions and attention-seeking behaviour.
      • ‘The survey found no gender differences in the prevalence of obsessive-compulsive, schizoid, or histrionic personality disorders.’
      • ‘Do you think every person with a histrionic personality disorder is going to step down from the public eye when their time is up?’
      • ‘However, conduct problems at study entry did not significantly affect the risk for major depression or histrionic personality disorders in adulthood.’
      • ‘And you risk being labeled as having a narcissistic or histrionic personality disorder.’
      • ‘People with histrionic personality disorder are constant attention seekers.’


  • 1Melodramatic behaviour designed to attract attention.

    ‘by now, Anna was accustomed to her mother's histrionics’
    • ‘I knew even then, I think, that my histrionics teetered on hysteria, but my self-conscious melodrama only angered me more.’
    • ‘A fine sentiment, but the doom-laden rock histrionics leave a bad taste in the mouth.’
    • ‘She was clearly used to Susie's histrionics, and her demeanor suggested she never expected anything different from her.’
    • ‘There have been no confrontations or histrionics, but there's plenty of time and I'm sure they'll happen.’
    • ‘And now that she apparently doesn't face the death penalty in Bali either, my sympathy for her histrionics is in fairly short supply.’
    • ‘Indeed, act appears to be an opportune word after watching the ridiculous histrionics performed during the Uefa Cup and Champions League finals.’
    • ‘But his dominance, like Smiley's, arises from a quiet natural authority that disdains the tasteless excesses of ostentation and histrionics.’
    • ‘Even Daffy Duck's avaricious histrionics are amusing in a buffoonish way.’
    • ‘Despite the melodrama, the histrionics must not prevent anyone from remembering that the Anfield club deserved to fail.’
    • ‘The accusations sound pretty wild, even considering California's usual election histrionics, but they're more than just overheated rhetoric.’
    • ‘The average, mainstream American feature deals with grief by employing a mixture of histrionics and melodramatic manipulation.’
    • ‘He's tasked with playing a man who has embellished his life with dramatic flourishes and histrionics, and he does so without being hammy himself.’
    • ‘A player need not indulge in unwanted histrionics in the field.’
    • ‘While they may be provocative, they're quite bereft of the histrionics and hyperbole we've become used to in contemporary art.’
    • ‘In congested Broadway, the histrionics of a team from Koothu-p-pattarai is the centre of attention.’
    • ‘While the other three actors are excellent, Huljak is neither word perfect nor has drained her acting of histrionics to suit the space.’
    • ‘Also there was Ray D' Arcy whose urgings had the crowd performing all sorts of histrionics in the name of art.’
    • ‘She has a penchant for histrionics, but her dramatic flair is a large part of her charm.’
    • ‘Frankly, I'm not that impressed by his histrionics here.’
    dramatics, drama, theatrics, theatricality, tantrums
    affectation, staginess, artificiality, unnaturalness
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    1. 1.1archaic Dramatic performances; the theatre.
      ‘he loved the theatre and everything which savoured of histrionics’
      • ‘This form of art provides ample scope for the actor to excel in histrionics.’
  • 2archaic An actor.


Mid 17th century (in the sense ‘dramatically exaggerated, hypocritical’): from late Latin histrionicus, from Latin histrio(n-) actor.