Definition of understudy in English:



  • (in the theatre) a person who learns another's role in order to be able to act at short notice in their absence.

    ‘he has played as understudy to Celtic's usual goalkeeper’
    ‘he is understood to be understudy for the governor’
    • ‘What is an understudy or replacement to do when he takes over a role vacated by a star?’
    • ‘I was his understudy for a few years and I tried to learn as much as I could from him.’
    • ‘Shortly after making the move, she was hired as an understudy for the company.’
    • ‘This was the classic cliché - understudy steps in at the last moment and makes good.’
    • ‘Opera singers have ‘doubles’, or understudies, who are able to take over a role in case of the principal's absence.’
    • ‘They don't have an understudy to take that role right now.’
    • ‘She was called back for a second, then a third audition before being cast as an understudy to the lead.’
    • ‘We should've just gotten an understudy for her role!’
    • ‘The understudy has had laryngitis for the past week.’
    • ‘He is standing to the side once again on this day, an understudy in this tumultuous theatre.’
    • ‘It's a bit like the old fairy tale of an understudy in the theatre getting their chance when the real lead falls ill and given the opportunity commands the stage.’
    stand-in, substitute, replacement, reserve, fill-in, locum, proxy, backup, relief, standby, supply, surrogate, stopgap, second, alternative, ancillary
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  • Study (a role or actor) as an understudy.

    ‘he had to understudy Prospero’
    • ‘Apparently their mate, who was understudying the lead, had gone on that night so they were there to support him.’
    • ‘Brian said: ‘It puts her in a good place for understudying the lead roles and if things work out well she could find herself going on for a principal before too long.’’
    • ‘Amy played Christine in the Millennium tour of Phantom, when she was understudying the role.’
    • ‘When rehearsals began, she was so impressed with him that she made him understudy for Jason's leading role.’
    • ‘After the auditions, she told me that she wanted me to understudy all of the parts, since I knew them already, just in case.’
    • ‘He will understudy his successor who has an important role behind the scenes on the tour.’
    • ‘There are several Juliets, at least two Romeos, and among the 32 dancers everyone seems to understudy everybody else.’