Definition of thematic role in English:

thematic role


  • (in Chomskyan linguistics) any of a set of semantic roles that a noun phrase may have in relation to a verb, for example agent, patient, location, source, or goal.

    Also called theta role
    • ‘A discussion of thematic roles is closely linked to one of the most complex questions ever: what is meaning?’
    • ‘A number of verbs belonging to each category are analyzed in terms of the thematic roles and grammatical relations undertaken by the noun phrases required by these verbs.’


thematic role