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How is “Theatre” Spelled? (Theatre or Theater?)

Theatre or theater?

Last updated on February 12th, 2024 at 07:15 pm



If you’re questioning whether “theatre” and “theater” mean the same thing despite being spelled differently, the answer is that they do. Both are correct spellings of the word and noun where people go for entertainment, such as a movie theatre (or theater).



Theatre vs. theater

The meaning of “theatre” and “theater” is the same (both share the same meaning and refer to the same thing; i.e., “a building or an outdoor area where plays and similar types of entertainment are performed”). The difference between the spellings lies in regional spelling conventions and preferences:


  • In American English, “theater” is the standard spelling;



  • British English, “theatre” is commonly used.



Other “-er”/”-re” words

Other words that share the “-er” / “-re” suffix follow the same spelling convention:


UK EnglishUS English
centrecenter
fibrefiber
metremeter



Sentences with theatre/theater

I haven’t been to the theatre/theater for a long time.

The pier has a unique little puppet theatre/theater.

The theatre/theater was packed for the opening night.

We were at the theatre/theater last night.

There’s a bar in the theatre/theater.



Synonyms of theatre/theater

  • amphitheater
  • arena
  • assembly hall
  • auditorium
  • cinema
  • concert hall
  • venue
  • playhouse
  • site



Origin of theatre/theater

From Etymonline:


Late 14c., “open air place in ancient times for viewing spectacles and plays,” from Old French theatre, and directly from Latin theatrum “play-house, theater; stage; spectators in a theater”, from Greek theatron “theater; the people in the theater; a show, a spectacle,” literally “place for viewing”. 



Learn more about US English vs. UK English



Sources

  1. Harper, Douglas. “Etymology of theatre.” Online Etymology Dictionary, Accessed 11 February, 2024.
  2. Oxford Learner’s Dictionary, theatre.


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