Definition of thesis in US English:


nounPlural theses

  • 1A statement or theory that is put forward as a premise to be maintained or proved.

    ‘his central thesis is that psychological life is not part of the material world’
    • ‘This thesis is not yet proved; but its resolution appears feasible in the foreseeable future.’
    • ‘The central thesis boils down to: if humans find it complex, it must be designed by something more intelligent than humans.’
    • ‘Nor can I accept the thesis that his long statement was a police concoction.’
    • ‘While it might seem like an eternity for your thesis to be proven, its fruition is often well worth the wait.’
    • ‘My impression of your central thesis is that, contrary to how we may view ourselves as a society, we are in fact a lot more uptight about sex than we'd like to believe.’
    • ‘You willfully ignore my central thesis: that there has been a change in the motivations underpinning US foreign policy.’
    • ‘The thesis you put forward equating leftist parties has the same credibility as the joke about Hitler and Stalin.’
    • ‘It is her thesis that theory and practice are linked in classical Chinese medicine by the archive of accumulated medical lore.’
    • ‘For all the narrative time-shifting and interweaving threads, it is brilliantly readable and its central thesis is compelling.’
    • ‘The central thesis was simple: mannerly behaviour is a barometer of civilisation.’
    • ‘Instead, his central thesis is that the religious extremism which gives rise to some forms of terrorism is born out of political repression.’
    • ‘Unfortunately, even the core data he uses to prove his thesis explain less than he claims.’
    • ‘One of the principal theses of Isaiah Berlin, the English philosopher, was that most of the cardinal values to which human beings aspire clash.’
    • ‘The method Keegan uses to prove his thesis is also interesting.’
    • ‘And nothing proves my thesis more than comparing Spielberg's movies to the deluge that comes after him.’
    • ‘Her thesis is merely that free will and determinism are incompatible.’
    • ‘But the central thesis of the work was that these leaders generally make decisions based on imprecise readings of the past.’
    • ‘It certainly failed to convince me of its central thesis: that much of modern humour, especially modern American humour, is Jewish in origin.’
    • ‘You feel Mamet is proving a thesis about the white American male and his channelling of sexual insecurity into racial hatred.’
    • ‘But the essential content of his thesis is maintained: socialism has been removed from the historical agenda.’
    • ‘He seeks to prove no partisan theses; he just wants us to know what happened.’
    • ‘Although ingeniously and entertainingly argued with a wealth of detail, the thesis is not conclusively proven.’
    theory, contention, argument, line of argument, proposal, proposition, premise, assumption, presumption, hypothesis, postulation, surmise, supposition
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    1. 1.1 (in Hegelian philosophy) a proposition forming the first stage in the process of dialectical reasoning.
      Compare with antithesis, synthesis
      • ‘The synthesis is a previously unrecognized direction that contains elements of both the thesis and antithesis.’
      • ‘Hegel never used the words 'thesis, antithesis, synthesis', as we all know.’
  • 2A long essay or dissertation involving personal research, written by a candidate for a college degree.

    ‘a doctoral thesis’
    • ‘The thesis was on the theory of probability, and in it he developed the main results of the theory in a rigorous but elementary way.’
    • ‘The compiler also welcomes information about relevant publications that the staff may have missed, including books, theses, and dissertations.’
    • ‘Then, under the supervision of theological scholar Paul Tillich from Harvard University, she wrote a doctoral thesis.’
    • ‘The significance of this finding is that each and every one of these websites are of the type declared to be illegal by the government for they sell completed theses, dissertations and term papers to students.’
    • ‘In traditional paper-based university libraries, higher degree theses and research articles are viewed and treated very differently.’
    • ‘It is taught in American literature courses and has been incorporated into master's theses and doctoral dissertations.’
    • ‘If you are a graduate student, you may be moving toward completing your master's thesis or doctoral dissertation.’
    • ‘Kloosterman presented his doctoral thesis to the University of Leiden in 1924.’
    • ‘This synthesis is based on public domain data, including published papers, theses and dissertations.’
    • ‘This work was based on his doctoral thesis and is written in the form of a discussion between a teacher and a group of students.’
    • ‘These essays grew out of my Columbia University master's thesis on Hopkins, written in 1942.’
    • ‘Many scientists, including people writing doctoral theses, had access to the bones, and they were laboriously studied.’
    • ‘Today, most universities require their students to submit electronic theses and dissertations for their graduation.’
    • ‘Another chapter is devoted entirely to writing a doctoral thesis.’
    • ‘The thesis or dissertation is your original research written with the guidance of a group of faculty known as your committee.’
    • ‘They can continue classes or use the research as their master's theses and doctoral dissertations.’
    • ‘The book is a compilation of doctoral candidates' dissertations and theses.’
    • ‘Unpublished manuscripts, theses, and dissertations were also excluded.’
    • ‘He has recently completed a doctoral thesis at the University of Exeter.’
    • ‘Perhaps when I get around to writing my doctoral thesis it will be on The Humour of Tolstoy and Pratchett: A Comparative Study.’
    • ‘The writer is an environmental lawyer from Sydney who is currently based in Jakarta writing a doctoral thesis on environmental law in Indonesia.’
    dissertation, essay, paper, treatise, disquisition, composition, monograph, study, piece of writing
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  • 3Prosody
    An unstressed syllable or part of a metrical foot in Greek or Latin verse.

    Often contrasted with arsis
    • ‘Such verses often have a pause after the thesis of the second foot also.’
    • ‘A foot consists of arsis (one long syllable, usually) followed by thesis (another long syllable, or possibly two short ones making up the same amount of time).’


Late Middle English (in thesis (sense 3)): via late Latin from Greek, literally ‘placing, a proposition’, from the root of tithenai ‘to place’.