Definition of dramatis personae in US English:

dramatis personae

plural noun

  • treated as singular or plural The characters of a play, novel, or narrative.

    ‘he has little gift for bringing his dramatis personae to life’
    • ‘Finally a minor gripe: There are very useful summaries of events and dramatis personae at the beginning of each chapter, but some curious choices are made.’
    • ‘I would like to write a brief synopsis of the plot, but whereas many authors concentrate on a handful of major characters, Erikson has a dramatis personae that runs to five pages.’
    • ‘In fables' classic form the dramatis personae are animals who represent the characteristics of humans.’
    • ‘His edition also regularized the entrances and exits of characters and attached a dramatis personae to each play for the first time.’
    • ‘Included in the dramatis personae is the character of The Old Man.’
    • ‘Nightclub owner Harry Starks is viewed through the eyes of four different dramatis personae - an actress, a low-life drug dealer, an academic and a Tory aristocrat.’
    • ‘Its social attitudes were surprisingly conventional, granted the politically volatile climate of opinion, and its dramatis personae were drawn largely from the gentry and professional classes.’
    • ‘Thomas of Woodstock or Richard the Second, Part One is an anonymous and untitled Elizabethan manuscript play of some 2989 lines, missing a front cover, list of dramatis personae and an unknown number of final pages.’
    • ‘Soderbergh cuts artfully back and forth between three interrelated story lines, with very different settings and very different dramatis personae.’
    • ‘The film lays out the characters, gives you the dramatis personae, which we should have probably included in the book.’
    • ‘To keep track of them all, Crewdson offers an all too necessary list of dramatis personae at the end of the book.’
    • ‘It was inevitable that focus would be made on the dramatis personae of that scene.’
    • ‘Outside of his main characters, most of King's dramatis personae tend to be little more than cliches and stereotypes who exist only to move the story forward.’
    • ‘Putting together preliminary notes for his dramatis personae, Trollope jotted down the following thumbnail sketches.’
    • ‘Baker describes Maiden in the list of dramatis personae as ‘a Nice-Fellow, that values himself upon his Effeminacies’.’
    • ‘When he further explained the names painted the characters and habits of the dramatis personae, I and the rest of the form were hooked.’
    • ‘In fact, all of the dramatis personae are sketched as archetypes rather than fully developed characters - the noble and loyal warrior, the scheming courtesan, etc.’
    • ‘The plot only exists to present dramatis personae with choices; character is what can be known about those people from the choices that they make.’
    • ‘It is hard to assess performances when the dramatis personae are so unpersonable, unbelievable, and, above all, unmemorable.’
    • ‘And interwoven between all these are Colley's captives, a dramatis personae whose names and narratives gradually imprint themselves upon the reader as in a good novel.’
    • ‘Then Prospero puts Miranda, a figure of the spectator, to sleep while he calls upon his instrument, Ariel, described in the dramatis personae simply as an airy spirit.’
    persona, person, role, part
    View synonyms


Mid 18th century: from Latin, literally ‘persons of the drama’.