Definition of fourth wall in US English:

fourth wall


the fourth wall
  • 1The space which separates a performer or performance from an audience.

    • ‘She also breaks down the fourth wall to reveal a seated audience in certain scenes.’
    • ‘Intimate scenes can be tougher to enact without the protection of the fourth wall.’
    • ‘Our play interacted with the audience, eliminating the fourth wall.’
    • ‘There was literally no the fourth wall in the space where they performed the play.’
    • ‘This phrase originated in theatrical circles where the fourth wall is the imaginary wall that separates the actors and the audience.’
    • ‘The experience is intentionally theatrical, a reminder of the existence of the fourth wall.’
    • ‘Together with a suitably sized matchbox to serve as the fourth wall, this created a parallelepiped volume which was filled with stacks of pennies.’
    • ‘The grey space allows Titus to break the fourth wall and speak directly to the viewer, further enhancing the experience of self-confession and intimacy.’
    • ‘As all performers will know, the fourth wall is all important in the concept of theatricality.’
    • ‘Those who attend The Play About the Baby will find scant refuge behind the fourth wall that usually separates audience from actors.’
    1. 1.1 The conceptual barrier between any fictional work and its viewers or readers.
      ‘he breaks the fourth wall by having Sam refer to the script and the play he's acting in’
      • ‘For instance, comedians didn't seem to mind breaking the fourth wall by talking straight to the audience.’
      • ‘At the moment when the fourth wall breaks, the film stock changes to one that hasn't been color corrected.’
      • ‘Felix had a vaguely menacing, unsettling air of mania to his tricks, which explored the nature of cartoons themselves, often breaking the fourth wall to address the viewer directly.’
      • ‘But Hope does more than his usual shtick of self-referential gags and breaking the fourth wall.’
      • ‘There's no real central character per se, and the show always skirts within inches of the fourth wall to remind us of that fact.’
      • ‘At the episode's conclusion, he literally breaks the fourth wall by bringing The X-Files ' credits onto the screen.’
      • ‘That breaking down of the fourth wall is what hooks Émard into continuing to create.’
      • ‘And if there is one thing I have learned from television, it's don't break the fourth wall.’
      • ‘Within the first ten seconds of the debut episode of Hustle, the character gives a knowing smirk directly into the fourth wall.’
      • ‘Willis grinned his way through every episode, often breaking the fourth wall with sarcastic comments for the audience at home.’


Originally used of the proscenium opening in a theater through which the audience sees the action of a play.