Meaning of “theme” in the English Dictionary

"theme" in British English

See all translations

themenoun [ C ]

uk /θiːm/ us /θiːm/

theme noun [ C ] (MAIN SUBJECT)

B2 the main subject of a talk, book, film, etc.:

The theme of loss runs through most of his novels.

More examples

  • The theme of freedom recurs throughout her writing.
  • The father-daughter relationship is a recurring theme in her novels.
  • On the surface it's a very funny novel but it does have a more serious underlying theme.
  • The movies she makes are all variations on the same theme.
  • Unfortunately, I had to leave just as the speaker was warming to his theme.

theme noun [ C ] (TUNE)

a song or tune that is played several times in a film, etc. and represents a character, situation, etc.:

a theme song/tune

specialized music a short, simple tune on which a piece of music is based

theme and variation

a musical form in which a theme is played and then repeated several times with small changes

(Definition of “theme” from the Cambridge Advanced Learner’s Dictionary & Thesaurus © Cambridge University Press)

"theme" in American English

See all translations

themenoun [ C ]

us /θim/

theme noun [ C ] (SUBJECT)

the topic of discussion or writing:

The theme of the conference was the changing role of women in modern society.

literature, art A theme is also the main idea of a work of literature or art.

theme noun [ C ] (MUSIC)

a short, simple tune on which a piece of music is based

theme and variation music

Theme and variation is a musical form in which a theme is played and then repeated several times with small changes in interesting ways.

(Definition of “theme” from the Cambridge Academic Content Dictionary © Cambridge University Press)