Difference Between Theater and Theatre

Theater and Theatre are the most common confusing words in the English language with a different spelling but having the same meaning. At the first insight, it may signal to any reader or writer that there may not appear a significant variation between these two words and both of them serve the same function of conveying a particular idea or concept.

However, there appear to be subtle differences between them, especially from a dialect standpoint.

Theater vs Theatre

The difference between Theater and Theatre is that Theater is a word commonly used in American English whereas Theatre is a word commonly used in British English. However, the above is not the only difference. A comparison between both the terms on certain parameters can shed light on subtle aspects:

Theater vs Theatre


Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonTheaterTheatre
MeaningSame meaning as that of Theatre i.e. a venue where plays or events are held or to denote a performance.

However, some people may relate Theater to the structure or the venue or the place where the entertainment or drama is taking place.
Same meaning as that of Theater i.e. a venue where plays or events are held or to denote a performance.

However, some people may relate Theatre to the actual drama or art form.
What is the spelling difference?The alphabet “e” is used as the second last alphabetThe alphabet “r” is used as the second last alphabet
Is this word used commonly in British English?NoYes
Is this word used commonly in American English?YesNo
Is it fully adopted in America?YesNo
Is this word included in the Merriam-Webster dictionary?Yes, because this dictionary is based on American English and this dictionary intended to simplify the words to relate to their easy and correct form of pronunciationNo, only the word “Theater” is included
Origination of wordFranceGreece
Is this word too old or new?A new word which emerged in the 14th centuryVery old dating back to 300 BC
Which is more commonOnly common concerning US English and that too used in few countriesTheatre is more common as it is very old and used in many countries


What is Theater?

Theater means a building/area for showing motion pictures or dramatic performance. Theater can also mean any dramatic literature or a dramatic representation as art or profession.

Theater can also relate to a place of enactment of significant events or activities or can be considered as a room with rising tiers of seats for assemblies (example for lectures). Theater can also mean entertainment in the form of a drama.

The word Theater was first coined in France and then spread to other European countries and the rest of the world. The theater is the most commonly used word in America to describe an entertainment or movie venue.

The word Theater is frequently in use in North America to denote someone going to a movie.


What is Theatre?

Theatre means a building, room, or outside format with seat rows and each seat row commonly elevated than the one in fore-end, from which people can watch a performance or other activity.

Theatre can also refer to the writing or performance of plays, opera, etc. which are performed in public or work in the form of acting or writing plays.

Theatre can also relate to a behavior that is not considered sincere and is intended to produce a specific effect or to stimulate curiosity. Theatre can also refer to an area or place of happenings for significant military events.

The word Theatre is a genesis of United Kingdom English. Theatre was coined almost ages ago in Athens, Greece around 322 BC.

Theatre is now mostly used in the UK and pronounced with a British accent

Theatre is used sparingly under American English and adopted since the last 50-60 years. However, there is still some opposition to using this word completely in the United States.


Main Differences Between Theater and Theatre

  1. The theater is trusted to emanate from France. Theatre is said to have been coined from Greece.
  2. The theater is a word commonly used in the United States (i.e. US English system). Theatre is used in the United Kingdom (i.e. the UK English system) and other countries.
  3. The theater is a word that emerged in prominence in the 14th century and hence considered as relatively new. Theatre is believed to have originated in 300 BC and hence very old.
  4. The theater is a word used in the United States since its origination. Theatre is only used for the last 50 years or so in the United States but with not much success.
  5. Theater word usage will be a preferred option for American writers and/or American audiences. Theatre word usage will be a preferred option for UK writers and/or UK audiences.
  6. In America, some people may still use the word Theater and Theatre in a different way such as Theater for a venue or an entertainment place and Theatre for an art or drama form.
Difference Between Theater and Theatre


  1. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/Theater
  2. https://www.britannica.com/art/Theatre-art
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