Definition of theme in English:

theme

noun

  • 1The subject of a talk, piece of writing, exhibition, etc.; a topic.

    ‘the theme of the sermon was reverence’
    • ‘At the end of each chapter, however, review questions are offered for discussion, which helps the reader focus on the theme of each chapter.’
    • ‘Here is an extract from his writings on the theme of faith glorifying God.’
    • ‘A yoga day on the theme of the anti-war movement is also being organised and details of this can be obtained by contacting Michele - see below for contact information.’
    • ‘And if you poke around in there you might find more on the theme of writing and narcissism.’
    • ‘There's an exhibition on the theme of the second world war at the Museum; I'll pay it a visit and report back!’
    • ‘The report focuses on the theme of proactively learning from experience.’
    • ‘Ballon Improvement Group is sponsoring a poster competition for school children on the theme of ‘Litter Control’.’
    • ‘On the theme of ‘how to get the best out of your people’, Eriksson said that while he trusted his own judgment he was prepared to explain decisions and listen to suggestions.’
    • ‘The idea of an art exhibition on the theme of beauty pageants might seem odd at first, but in Venezuela beauty queens are a national obsession.’
    • ‘The exhibition on the theme of growing up in a small fishing village looked at stories of truancy, illness and religion and what children of those bygone days did during their leisure time.’
    • ‘The Sheppard Trusts Heritage Competition for primary schools was on the theme of ‘Connacht Long Ago’.’
    • ‘In the coming year, the Association will focus on the theme of leadership.’
    • ‘The Bishop of Birmingham, the Rt Rev John Sentamu, delivered the sermon on the theme of hope for the world.’
    • ‘He has now come up with an exhibition of paintings centring on the theme of ‘innocence’.’
    • ‘The new bins will carry messages on the theme of ‘respect’, which has been promoted through large posters put up along the roadside.’
    • ‘Various shows and exhibitions have been staged inside the gallery on the theme of ‘humankind in harmony with nature’.’
    • ‘In offering my reasons for the existence of terrorists and terrorism, I focus squarely on the theme of civil society and democratization.’
    • ‘This major exhibition focuses on the theme of desire in Surrealist art.’
    • ‘So we decided to have an exhibition on the theme of illumination.’
    • ‘The former church will host an installation-based exhibition on the theme of light, which will run from July to October.’
    subject, topic, subject matter
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1US An essay written by a school pupil on a particular subject.
      • ‘She had to write a theme once on what book she'd want to have with her if she were stranded on a desert island.’
      • ‘So how do I go about writing a theme?’
      • ‘Each student will write a theme on a topic chosen by the teacher or selected through a class activity such as brainstorming.’
  • 2An idea that recurs in or pervades a work of art or literature.

    ‘love and honour are the pivotal themes of the Hornblower books’
    • ‘It makes me wonder about men's attitudes to violence, and how it is often portrayed as a force which binds them together - an old theme in literature and cinema.’
    • ‘But death has been a really important theme in human literature.’
    • ‘Another important cause of tension was the persistent use of mythological themes in art and literature, in a society still devoted to Christianity.’
    • ‘In these first few years of Empire, the dominant theme in Roman literature is a consciousness of decline.’
    • ‘The other day I glanced at the latest of these potted guides, which informed me that ‘childhood is a recurring theme in Scottish literature’.’
    • ‘We have divided these issues into five areas, based upon the common themes found in the literature.’
    • ‘This brief description of the plot of Cabaret does not really describe the story of the film, since it fails to elaborate the film's themes, ideas and morals.’
    • ‘Discuss why this is such a popular theme in recent literature and media texts.’
    • ‘It's also the appeal of the classics, and many novels for older children and teens draw heavily on classic themes, tackling challenging ideas along the way.’
    • ‘The theme of life lessons recurs throughout these eleven poems, as the reader follows a young girl and boy through childhood.’
    • ‘To be sure, the painful consequence of racial violence is a pervasive theme in black American literature.’
    • ‘Robert Cormier, a well-known author of adolescent literature, uses the theme of intimidation in many of his books.’
    • ‘The motivation, themes, and ideas behind a work can reveal something to us about ourselves, a kind of inner truth.’
    • ‘Fresh fruit and flowers are a part of every entertainment, and nature and gardens are central themes in literature and poetry.’
    • ‘Love, sex, duplicity, betrayal - the abiding themes of literature are all there, along with the fascinating twist that it's all going on under the watchful eye of the public.’
    • ‘The theme of identity also pervades the Cinderella story.’
    • ‘When analysing a play you should look for the overall theme/idea.’
    • ‘Novelist John Gardner once observed that there are only two themes in all of literature: Someone goes on a journey, and a stranger comes to town.’
    • ‘Unlike many of his West German colleagues, he sees nothing objectionable in making connections, letting his imagination play with themes and ideas from other sources.’
    • ‘It is a theme that pervades this seductive book, with its delight in the arcane and ordinary.’
    1. 2.1Music
      A prominent or frequently recurring melody or group of notes in a composition.
      ‘the first violin takes up the theme high up in its register’
      • ‘The central melody evolves around a minimal theme reminiscent of random melodies played on wind chimes.’
      • ‘His operas reveal careful dramatic planning, and his use of recurring themes and motifs frequently creates conceptual and musical unity within a work.’
      • ‘At the time Rachmaninov wrote, he competed with variations on the same theme by Liszt, Schumann, and Brahms.’
      • ‘The composer claims to have used themes by Soler and Boccherini.’
      • ‘Written in the form of a theme and variations, Britten composed a central theme based on a melody by the first great English composer, Henry Purcell.’
      • ‘There are motifs, themes, and recurring melodies, all the things you'd expect from one song blown up to forty minutes.’
      • ‘Still, any score by such an important composer, even one that plays quirky variations on themes by Mozart, is worth hearing.’
    2. 2.2[usually as modifier]A piece of music that frequently recurs in or accompanies the beginning and end of a film, play, or musical.
      ‘a theme song’
      • ‘Pop stardom is simply not on his agenda, with film scores and theme music having significantly more appeal, and in his view, greater longevity in terms of a career.’
      • ‘The theme music has now been brought out as an album.’
      • ‘Instead of appearing on the silver screen she will be singing the theme tune to the film.’
      • ‘And John Barry wrote theme music for 12 out of the 19 James Bond films, as well as scores for Midnight Cowboy and Dances With Wolves.’
      • ‘She half expected a deer to prance by a rainbow while some overly cheesy theme song music started playing.’
      • ‘The theme music, Song of Australia, was performed by Ian Walker and recorded at St Mark's Church, Darling Point, in Sydney.’
      • ‘It's a pleasure to hear the film's theme music and Nat King Cole's efforts so well presented.’
      • ‘He sees himself as an artist, but all anyone ever wants to ask him about is the film theme music he wrote 40 years ago.’
      • ‘She loved the theme song and bought the sheet music, as you did back then.’
      • ‘And German TV networks run the theme music from that movie in their reports.’
      • ‘The soundtracks of all the films in the trilogy are a mix of theme music as well as on-screen sound, but, importantly, no dialogue or voiceover.’
      • ‘I remember being utterly thrilled by it, and the theme music is still one of my favourite ever tunes.’
      • ‘Rock music and TV theme tunes are being piped into classrooms to help pupils study for their exams.’
      • ‘The theme music of the film has become a hit with mobile users in town.’
      • ‘Regulars had made fun of his cowboy appearance, and had hummed the theme song from the film ‘The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’.’
      • ‘Hannah finished cooking her eggs as the music from the theme song rang through the living room and into the kitchen.’
      • ‘Aside from the beginning theme song, don't expect much.’
      • ‘Act 3 includes the Ride of the Valkyries which few festival goers will fail to recognise as the theme music to the film Apocalypse Now.’
      • ‘Some parents have noticed their babies quietening when a familiar song or TV theme tune comes on.’
      • ‘The show runs from March 16-20 and features a specially composed theme song and musical hits from Chicago, Phantom of the Opera and Ring of the Roses.’
  • 3[usually as modifier] A setting given to a restaurant, pub, or leisure venue, intended to evoke a particular country, historical period, culture, etc.

    ‘an Irish theme pub’
    • ‘The rustic Northern theme of the restaurant and the pleasant ambient sound combined to make a truly wonderful and very repeatable dining experience.’
    • ‘Getting the right team together is important, so you must make sure that you have people with the correct experience for the theme of your restaurant.’
    • ‘How any of this related to the theme of the restaurant I couldn't figure then and still can't.’
    • ‘The entrance is quite enchanting, surrounded by a garden that elegantly complements the restaurant's typical Bulgarian theme.’
    • ‘Uniforms are designed keeping in mind the theme of the restaurant.’
    • ‘The Restaurant has three themes - Railway, History and Country.’
    • ‘It's a theme restaurant and the theme is maritime disasters.’
    • ‘It's not the most appropriate time to review a restaurant with a spooky theme, but I decided not to wait until Halloween as The Witches is definitely worth visiting more than once a year.’
    • ‘There is no clear theme, but enlarged historical photos of the area line the upper walls.’
    • ‘The fact that it was served in a gondola-shaped dish was inexplicable considering the restaurant's Bulgarian theme, but at least it added novelty value.’
    • ‘Following the theme of the restaurant, all the dishes are named for Hollywood stars.’
    • ‘Owners Paul and Valerie Fileger are changing the name, menu and the theme of the restaurant.’
    • ‘To fit in with the spa theme, the Sands restaurant offers a spa menu featuring light, low-calorie dishes that perfectly complement the idea of eating yourself healthy in culinary style.’
    • ‘There was a distinct Japanese theme to the décor, which made sense since the proprietor was from a traditional Japanese family.’
    • ‘Lewallen said he'd like to put some Creole and Caribbean-influenced dishes on the menu but by no means is the restaurant theme going to go New Orleans or tropical.’
  • 4Linguistics
    The first major constituent of a clause, indicating the subject matter, typically being the subject but optionally other constituents, as in ‘smitten he is not’.

    Contrasted with rheme
    • ‘In the theme-rheme structure, it is the theme that is the prominent element.’
    • ‘When a sentence has an indirect object, that constituent may also function as a marked theme, the focus of attention, by beginning the sentence.’
    1. 4.1The stem of a noun or verb; the part to which inflections are added, especially one composed of the root and an added vowel.
  • 5historical Any of the twenty-nine provinces in the Byzantine empire.

    • ‘Other administrative units were devised in due course, such as the shires in England and the themes in Byzantium.’

verb

[WITH OBJECT]
  • Give a particular theme or setting to (a leisure venue, event, etc.)

    ‘the amusement park will be themed as a Caribbean pirate stronghold’
    ‘a themed party’
    • ‘The garden party was one of three themed events chosen by the Queen to be part of her Golden Jubilee celebrations.’
    • ‘As well as the flowers, visitors can also enjoy guided walks, evening concerts, plays and themed festivals.’
    • ‘The money has been raised through fun weekends, tombola, raffles and special themed events.’
    • ‘The grant will not only cover this musical event but also go to fund other themed events, e.g. Halloween, later in the year.’
    • ‘Fairytale characters roam the store, the main window of which is themed with a different fairy tale.’
    • ‘Each disco will be themed to provide an opportunity to dress up and really have fun!’
    • ‘Monthly themed nights will start in March with an Italian evening.’
    • ‘Other themed rooms include the Chinese Room, the Governess Suite and the Green Room.’
    • ‘He went to a private fancy dress party that was themed and wore something that might be considered by some as bad taste.’
    • ‘There will be themed events each weekend and in the final week our Viking heritage will be celebrated with saga, dance and song.’
    • ‘A jazz trio, which can be hired for £250 an hour, works well at a Twenties-themed party.’
    • ‘Jessica thought the set looked cool, but she wondered why every single pop act had to theme their concerts.’
    • ‘All exhibition proposals must be themed and group based with a minimum of three artists.’
    • ‘We walked in silence for a while, eventually finding an Elvis-Presley-themed café to settle down in.’
    • ‘Centenary Square, for example, would be an ideal place for regular themed open-air markets.’
    • ‘It is themed around the antics of a group of infamous pirates.’
    • ‘He said no decision has been made as to whether the library will hold a Harry-Potter-themed party in the future.’
    • ‘To try to make their submission stand out, desperate publishers have taken to theming their entries.’
    • ‘Cheaper options will typically involve theming a venue around a simple visual principle - hence the enduring popularity of the black and white night - or adding simple table novelties such as masks.’
    • ‘There will be prizes for the best costumes and street musicians and special themed events in the restaurants and pubs.’
    • ‘The chef cooks whatever vegetables, meat, and fish are in season and often there are themed nights.’

Origin

Middle English: via Old French from Latin thema, from Greek, literally proposition; related to tithenai to set or place.

Pronunciation:

theme

/θiːm/